The times we live in are a challenge, both for employers and employees.
For employees, while it is currently an employee market on Vancouver Island with a very low unemployment rate, it is becoming impossible for those working in entry level positions to find affordable housing. Vancouver Island is a tourism area with a lot of seasonal, part-time, lower-wage positions. The minimum wage is supposed to reach over $15 per hour by June of 2021. In the Nanaimo area currently, the living wage is $17.65. By 2021, I am sure that the living wage will be much higher, and the percentage gap will remain between the two.
Another issue in raising the minimum wage is the effect on employers, especially small business. If they have a staff, raising the bottom rate dominoes into raising the rate for those in higher positions. There needs to be clarity of remuneration for levels of responsibility. This translates to higher costs for consumers, which, in the end, raises the living wage.
The worker shortage has been focusing on the trades but in reality, it is happening in all sectors of employment. For the trades it is about to get worse with the LNG announcement for Kitimat. The high paying construction jobs will entice workers from other areas of BC, creating a further shortage of skilled labour, especially on Vancouver Island where wages have traditionally been lower than the rest of British Columbia.
All of this is further hampered with the housing affordability skyrocketing in the past few years. Demand, changes to building code, and the building of higher-end homes to maximize the land and building costs have put home ownership out of the range for many. This, is combined with Vancouver Island being more appealing cost-wise that the inflated housing market in the lower mainland and elsewhere, has increased the pressure on the real estate supply on the island.
For those of us who endured the crash of 1982, we know there will be an adjustment. What it will look like is uncertain, but something will have to give. The average house price in Nanaimo is around $550,000. If things keep going the way they are, who will be able to buy our homes in the future?
Interesting times requiring creative solutions!
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