The minimum hourly wage that a couple with two children in Greater Victoria must earn to meet their basic expenses continues to rise in 2018. The Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria calculates that the so-called Living Wage has gone up nearly $0.50 to $20.50 an hour. That is the amount a couple working 35 hours a week will need to earn to cover expenses including rent, child care, food and transportation once government taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies are taken into account. The couple will not be able to save for children’s education, purchase a home, service debts or credit card bills or afford to care for an elderly relative or a disabled family member. “The cost of living has been soaring in recent years, with shelter and child care costs being the two largest household expenses for families in our region.” the reports reads.It’s estimated that about 27 per cent of Greater Victoria two-parent families with two children now have incomes less than the living wage. The report estimates that overall monthly household expenses went up by 4.7 per cent ($271.70/month) in the past year, from $5,791.19 to $6,062.89. The living wage had hovered around $20 an hour from 2015 to 2017. The CSPC says there have been some greatly-needed policy changes introduced this year including a reduction in MSP premiums and child care costs. It is calling on all levels of government to do more including: Support the development of affordable housing options in neighbourhoods, begin to legalize secondary suites in all municipalities, and improve accessibility and reduce costs of childcare. It also asks employers to look at wage scales to see how long a person must be employed before earning a wage required for an adequate quality of life and look for other ways to improve the quality of life of low wage earners such as flexible work hours, subsidized bus passes, on the job training. The CSPC calls itself the leading independent, non-partisan, and knowledgeable voice on socioeconomic issues in B.C.’s Capital Region.