Cost of raising a family in Central Okanagan on the rise

Couples with two children now have to earn an average of $18.01 per hour each in order to cover the cost of basic needs.

KELOWNA - It's getting more expensive for two-parent and two-child families to get by in the Central Okanagan.

Just how expensive? Each parent now has to make a minimum of $18.01 per hour—up nearly five percent from last year's figure—to meet their family's basic needs: food, rent, transportation, child care and education.

According to the 2013 Living Wage calculation by the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, the increase reflects the rising costs of childcare, at an extra $89 per month from last year, and transportation, which now costs families an average of $492 per month.

Unlike the Minimum Wage rate set by the provincial government, the Living Wage is set by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and determines the actual costs of living in a given community.

And it's also possible the Living Wage reflects a conservative calculation. Debt repayment, cable, internet, cigarettes, supporting relatives and other common expenses that soak up the family paycheck were not factored into the figure.

The district's social development coordinator Christene Walsh says B.C. is tied with Manitoba for having the highest child poverty rates in Canada.

“The Living Wage calculation is important because it encourages all Central Okanagan communities to explore additional innovative ways to help families meet their most basic needs while offering opportunities to get ahead,” Walsh says.

Image Credit: Regional District of Central Okanagan

To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at or call (250)718-0428.

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