The living wage for Fernie is $23.58 an hour for 2022. While the living wage has never been calculated before in Fernie, other communities across the province have seen large living wage increases, including the Columbia Valley at 25% higher than last year.
The living wage is the hourly wage that two parents working full-time need to earn to support a family of four.
The living wage has increased across BC in all of the communities where it has been calculated in the past and is driven by two essentials that every family needs: food and shelter.
“With general inflation shooting up to a 40-year high this year, and with the cost of food rising even faster and rent increasing everywhere, especially for families that need to move and are no longer protected by rent control, it’s not surprising to see such big increases this year,” says Anastasia French, Living Wage for Families provincial manager.
Food is the second-highest cost in most communities, only exceeded by the cost of housing. Food used to be the third-most expensive item but has now edged ahead of childcare costs after the BC government made major investments in childcare affordability in 2018 that significantly reduced out-of-pocket childcare costs for the living wage family, French says.
Taylor Jenkins, the Elk Valley Economic Initiative Coordinator, who was responsible for calculating the Fernie Living wage, highlighted that rental costs are driving the cost of living up in Fernie. “There has been a significant increase in the cost of rent in Fernie in the last year alone. This issue has a wide-ranging social and economic impact and needs to be addressed, with urgent action taken at local and regional levels. We need to identify how municipalities, housing societies, developers, and the Elk Valley Economic Initiative (EVEI) can work together to increase the supply of rental, workforce, and affordable housing in the Elk Valley.”
The EVEI’s 2022 Elk Valley Business Retention and Expansion report highlighted housing as a top community weakness, a major issue for employee recruitment, and an underlining issue for employee retention. The EVEI continues to work on the action items outlined in the report to improve the housing situation in Fernie and the Elk Valley.
The EVEI plans to include calculations of the living wage for Sparwood and Elkford next year, communities who are also experiencing rising costs of living driven by increasing rental costs.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA-BC), through report lead and senior economist Iglika Ivanova, provide the detailed structure for each communities living wage calculation, which is based on core living essentials along with government taxes, credits, deductions, and subsidies. Local partners calculate community specific numbers such as the median rental cost for a 3-bedroom house and average yearly childcare costs. The final calculation is then reviewed and verified by the Living Wages for Families BC.
The 2022 report on the living wage, calculation spreadsheet, and technical appendix.
The Elk Valley Economic Initiative (EVEI) was formally established in 2013 to collaboratively develop regional economic development projects and initiatives in the Elk Valley towards the improvement of the region’s economy. In addition, it aims to increase the number of permanent, full-time residents who spend their money locally thereby contributing to the region’s sustainability.
The EVEI has eight voting seats representing the District of Elkford, the Elkford Chamber of Commerce, the District of Sparwood, the Sparwood Chamber of Commerce, the City of Fernie, the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it (Tobacco Plains) First Nation, and Teck as the industry partner. The EVEI is supported by representatives from the BC Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, Community Futures East Kootenay, Columbia Basin Trust, and the Economic Trust of the Southern Interior.
The EVEI will champion, support and articulate opportunities for projects and initiatives while creating a network and increasing communications among individuals and organizations involved in economic development.
For more information on the Fernie living wage, please contact Taylor Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org