The living wage for Nelson has been calculated for 2015 as $18.21 per hour. That’s the wage that is high enough to maintain a normal standard of living.
Based on a low income threshold of just under $14,000 per year in Nelson in 2011, 2,480 individuals or 19 per cent of Nelson’s tax-filers and their dependents were ‘low income.’
Those are two of many statistics presented by Jocelyn Carver and George Chandler to Nelson council on Monday night on behalf of the poverty-reduction group Nelson at its Best.
Their presentation was for council’s information, they said, and they did not ask council for anything.
“But we are hoping to be part of solution around some economic issues in Nelson,” Chandler told the Star, “and we would like to be considered a source of research and information that can contribute to strategies for the city.”
Our methods of measuring poverty are off the mark, Chandler and Carver told council. They said even many people working full time at minimum wage are under the poverty line. Their statistics were designed to illustrate this.
“People associate poverty with homelessness or street culture,” Chandler said, “but there are people working hard and having to make tough choices. It is more of a reality of life in Nelson than most of us tend to think.”
They said that the low income line in Canada in 2015 was $19,157. But according to a living wage measure known as BC Market Basket, a person would need $27,337 to maintain a normal standard of living. For the Nelson Market Basket measure, they would need $32,500.
Given those numbers, a person making a wage of $10.45 per hour would face a deficit in Nelson of $13,431 per year, they said.
Chandler and Carver presented further statistics, including:
• Jobs with the most vacancies in Canada: retail sales people (28,665), food counter workers (21,430), and customer and info service reps (12,115) for the fourth quarter of 2015.
• BC food bank use grew by 28 per cent between 2008 and 2015.
• Nelson’s food bank usage was up eight per cent in 2015-16 over the previous year.
• 25 per cent of Canadians report reduced consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables due to rising prices.
• The cost of living for a family of four living in Nelson is $5430.51 per month.
Chandler said the numbers presented were gleaned from a variety of sources including Statistics Canada, federal tax filer data, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Selkirk College’s Rural Development Institute.