COURTENAY, B.C. – A report released this week credits the New Democrat government for a decrease in the cost of living for Comox Valley, says Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard.

An NDP MLA, Leonard said the Comox Valley’s living wage has decreased by eight per cent since last year, which, she says, can largely be attributed to B.C.’s investments in child care.

“The living wage has gone down, particularly in the Comox Valley,” Leonard told the newsroom. “It’s $1.31 less. The living wage is intended to represent the hourly amount for a family of two parents with two young children have to earn to meet their basic needs, their basic expenses. And so, going down is a good direction.”

Leonard said the living wage dropped from $16.59 per hour to $15.28 per hour, marking an eight percent reduction.

“What’s exciting about it is that they are attributing the reduction to government policies, particularly around child care and the more affordable child care that is being provided thanks to our affordable child care benefit and our university child care fee reduction initiative,” she added.

According to a release from Leonard, the report also “recognizes the New Democrat government’s removal of the MSP, and its effect on making life more affordable for British Columbians.”

“For too long, families in the Comox Valley have been struggling with service cuts and growing expenses. We’re making record investments in child care and healthcare to reduce costs for families,” Leonard said.

“We still have a long way to go, but this report shows that our policies are delivering real results for families in the Comox Valley.”

The report prepared by economist Iglika Ivanova and Lincoln Saugstad states that “the new child care investments rolled out by the BC government significantly improve affordability for modest- and middle-income families with young children.”

Leonard said that the New Democrat government has been focused on making life more affordable for families in B.C.

The release noted that investments in child care, such as the Fee Reduction Initiative and the Affordable Child Care Benefit, are already saving some families more than $19,000 per year.

According to the release, “the elimination of MSP premiums in January 2020 will be one of the biggest middle-class tax cuts in B.C. history, and will save families up to $1,800 annually.”

Leonard admits more work needs to be done, “but we’re moving in the right direction.”

“When we’re talking about living wage, we’re talking about the story of child poverty,” she said. “If we can start to make advances on the living wage, that means we are lifting children out of poverty.”

Asked if relief at the pump would help the situation, Leonard responded, “we know that there are ups and downs with the gas prices and right now, it’s unbelievable what it is, however we don’t have a whole lot of control over that but what we do have control over, we are making advances.

She pointed to government policies including the elimination of the MSP, and the child opportunity benefits coming into effect in 2020, which she says will be “further assistance” to low and middle income families.