The cost of housing is too high and wages are too low, a Kamloops housing advocate and a mortgage broker both concluded Wednesday.
Their comments came after reviewing the national and local numbers from the latest round of National Household Survey results released Wednesday.
Tangie Genshorek, with the Kamloops Homelessness Action Plan, said the survey, which shows middle-aged white men dominating the high-income bracket and single mothers in the lowest range, is a reflection of Kamloops.
"What we found through our work is the single-parent households and especially those with women, are in low-income range," she said.
"The price of daycare cannot be underestimated in that whole scenario."
The cost of housing was a big focus of the figures released Wednesday. They show one in four households is paying 30 per cent or more of income into rent or a mortgage. The number of households affected across Canada is 3.3 million.
Genshorek said that point is well made by the StatsCan survey. But it's what is done with the figures that's important.
"There's a lot of issues with this survey in understanding poverty and need," she said. "Families in Kamloops are ending up at Pit Stop, St. Vincent's, the food bank. They're moving constantly because they're getting evicted all the time."
A living wage in Kamloops is $17.95 an hour for a household with two working parents. That doesn't include anything for savings or emergency funds, she said.
A single parent's wages would be a little lower than that because they're eligible for more subsidies for child/daycare support, Genshorek added.
But B.C.'s minimum wage is $10.25 an hour.
"We skip the minimum wage and go to a living wage discussion," she said.
Mary-Ellen Colman, a mortgage broker at Dominion Lending Centres, said the cost of housing is out of balance for many homeowners.
"I think it is getting dangerous, mainly for first and second-time homebuyers. It makes it really hard on them, especially if they're going to have a young family," she said.
Canada Mortgage and Housing has capped mortgage amortization to 25 years, which pushes up monthly payments. Colman said spreading it over 30 years or longer can lessen the financial pain.
The result is some people aren't getting what they expect or are opting for less expensive choices such as condos, she said.
"They're having to buy far less than what they think they deserve, because of the prices."
Even the cost of renting has been rising, Colman noted.
"The rental costs have gone up. Even to rent a condo, you're probably looking at $900 and up."
She agreed with Genshorek that raising wages is probably needed to help people pay for shelter.
Genshorek said even the banks are jumping on the wage-increase bandwagon, knowing their clients are on the edge of being able to make payments.
She felt some simple policy changes would provide financial relief, such as a national or provincial daycare subsidy, free tuition, a living wage or a program involving developers in housing programs.
A boost in wages would be accompanied by an increase in taxes to pay for some of those programs, she added.
"Taxes have to go up and we have to stop voting for people who promise not to raise taxes," she said. "Look at Scandinavia, they pay a lot more but they get the services they need. More services are covered."
She also criticized the StatsCan survey itself, as the federal government did away with the long form and made participation voluntary. Genshorek said that puts a huge question mark over the results.
"This short form is a joke. We're not getting a lot of numbers," she said. "They're not trying to dig any further. They're trying to gloss over the numbers."
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Here are some of the numbers for Kamloops from Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey:
* Total private households: 35,025; owner, 25,810; renter, 9,215
* Total private households by condominiums: 35,020; part of a condo development, 5,915; not part of a condo development, 29,105
* Total owner and tenant households, 34,870. Those spending less than 30 per cent of income on shelter costs, 25,905. Those spending 30 per cent or more on shelter costs, 8,965.
* Percentage of owner households with mortage, 60.2 per cent. Percentage of owner households spending 30 per cent or more of income on shelter, 18.1 per cent.
* Median monthly shelter costs for owned home, $1,052. Average monthly shelter cost for owned home, $1,099.
* Median value of dwellings, $349,099. Average value of dwellings, $361,030.
* Percentage of tenant households with subsidized housing, 14.4 per cent. Percentage of tenant households spending 30 per cent or more of household income on shelter costs, 47 per cent. Median monthly shelter costs for rented homes, $833. Average monthly shelter costs for rented homes, $859.
* Income figures show more women than men earning $0 to $39,999, a leveling off for $40,000 to $49,999 (3,405 men and 3,325 women) and men outnumbering women in the wage categories $50,000 to $125,000 and higher (1,310 and 220).
* The median income in Kamloops is $31,380 ($39,542 for men, $25,005 for women). The average is $39,286 ($48,528 for men and $30,636 for women).
* Median family income, $77,718. Average family income, $89,103.