A report on the cost of living in Whitehorse shows some relief in the form of a recent childcare scheme, but warns of rising costs over the next year.
The report is based on costs affecting an average family of four.
The Living Wage in Whitehorse, Yukon: 2020-2022 was released on July 18. It states that the wage required to meet the basic needs of a household made up of two working adults and two children is $18.28 per hour for a 35-hour work week once government transfers and deductions are accounted for.
The living wage for a family has actually fallen since the same calculations were applied in 2021 — the living wage report’s author, public policy researcher Kendall Hammond, attributes this to benefits such as the Yukon Early Learning and Child Care Funding Program. The program subsidizes up to $700 per month per child for licensed childcare or early learning.
Published by the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition (YAPC), the report shows a $10,304 decrease in overall expenses for the reference family in 2022 when compared to the previous year. It shows shelter costs have increased 11.3 per cent since 2020. It’s not the only household expense on the rise.
“We expect to see a sharp increase in the living wage calculation for 2023 given the increased costs of shelter, food and transportation this year,” Hammond added.
An infographic circulated alongside the report states that with inflation, the living wage will be significantly higher in 2023. It states that between December 2021 and May 2022 alone, the cost of food rose 5.1 per cent, the cost of shelter increased by 4.4 per cent and transportation costs went up 5.3 per cent.
The infographic adds that not everyone has benefited from child care assistance.
“Many households without children have not received the same kind of recent support from government. Individuals who live alone and lone-parent households with children are much more likely to experience poverty and face severe affordability challenges relative to households with a composition similar to the living wage reference family,” the infographic reads.
The living wage report briefly deals with Yukon communities outside Whitehorse, drawing on outside data and information collected by past YAPC studies to conclude that the living wage in the communities is likely substantially higher than that in Whitehorse due to the higher cost of most goods and services. An example provided from a 2017 YAPC study found that the cost of a nutritious diet in Old Crow was nearly twice what it was in Whitehorse and food costs were at least 10 per cent higher than Whitehorse in every Yukon community.
Hammond said the report on living wage is published in hopes of guiding government policies that affect affordability.
“We will continue to work collaboratively with our community partners and governments to implement the recommendations outlined in this report,” says Kristina Craig, Executive Director of YAPC.
“This report clearly demonstrates that direct cash transfers are one of the most effective tools at the government’s disposal to combat inflation and reduce poverty. Action really needs to be taken now to ensure more people do not fall through the cracks as the cost of living increases.”
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