Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca/ Editorial
Using middle class as a blanket term may be almost meaningless, if not politically dangerous, should public policy overlook the fact the group now includes so many different tribes at different stages in their pursuit of the Canadian dream. (Erin Anderssen, Globe and Mail)
If you use Twitter, you might have noticed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is visiting parts of the Lower Mainland today to talk about how the Federal government is helping middle class British Columbians.
If you identify as being a middle class British Columbian, this would be a good chance for you to send some feedback to the Prime Minster about your family’s concerns.
But this is where we need to claw things back a bit. When you look at the income level that’s required to be “middle class” (and the numbers vary a bit), you just might start to wonder if your family is really “middle class”, or “middle income” if you prefer. The average income for British Columbians is not very high. Even if you combine two average incomes in one household, when you factor in the cost of housing (mortgages and related expenses, or rent), transit, food, hydro and other expenses, you can see why so many families are struggling.
I heard a story recently about a household in which one of the two income earners had to step away from a job due to an injury. The conversation made me realize how close to the edge families are living. Many BC families live simple, 100 mile type lifestyles. It’s a misnomer to characterize British Columbian families as “those people on the west coast who are living large”. And you’ve probably seen the news stories about the heavy debt load that families – not only in BC but across Canada – are carrying.
Add into the picture the realities of a single parent or a single parent who has health problems. (When you are single adult in a household, your salary is not covering just half of the bills.) The median total income in a single parent house hold is just under $40,000 per year. Or consider a two parent household where one parent can’t work because of access to affordable, accessible and high quality childcare, or other issues.
The leadership and vision needed to execute a cohesive regional economic development strategy – covering everything from a fix for our traffic backlogs to a coordinated game plan for retaining head offices – is sorely lacking in the Lower Mainland. The head-office exodus is just the latest, and perhaps the most stark, reminder of a problem that continues to dog the region’s growth. (News source from 2006. Has the situation improved?)
If you’ve lived in British Columbia long enough, you’ll know that this province is not the place to launch a career in a big way, and it could be hard to progress in your career if you don’t know the right people. Having solid work experience and credentials is often not enough. If you need to find a new job when you’re in your 40s and beyond, the situation can be even more challenging. One of the glaring differences between Vancouver and Toronto, for example, is that Vancouver is not a centre for corporate headquarters.
How many adults in British Columbia are either under employed, working part time or even unemployed? I left British Columbia and worked overseas for five years because even after I had clawed my way out of being underemployed, I was still grossly underpaid for the work that I did and couldn’t afford to live well in the Lower Mainland. (My financial health doubled!) I’m a Gen Xer. Proof that this has been an issue for a LONG time. The largest growth area in the job market in recent months has been in the part time job sector. Goodbye benefits!
[…] most of the job growth in the province from October 2015 to October 2016 has mostly consisted of part-time jobs. (Source)
Some issues that BC families face are addressed by the Provincial government’s policies and some are affected by what happens on The Hill. But it’s still important to give a complete picture of the reality that BC families are facing.
Some issues might not appear to affect BC Families but they affect the environment, for example, which does have a direct impact on all British Columbians and on our children’s future.
There’s lots to talk about! Get on Twitter and send your feedback to the PM, via his social media manager. If politicians are going to tell us how they’re helping us, it’s important for them to know how we want to be helped.
You can comment about this posting on the BCFamily.ca Facebook page. Your contribution matters so don’t be shy!
BC has the lower Per Student funding in Canada, after P.E.I. This is a provincial issue but it’s important to mention the state of public schools in BC.
If you have concerns about healthcare, you can find out more about healthcare funding in British Columbia, as it pertains to the Provincial and Federal governments, here. See references to the Canada Health transfer and fiscal transfers. See also: A Reminder of Why Healthcare Funding Matters & Beyond the Medical Tests