Client Stories

The High Cost Of Safety Gear For A Low-Income Individual

High Cost Of Safety Gear

The cost of living in Greater Vancouver

Lifestyle adjustments,

The rising cost of living,

Declining disposable income.

Economic hardships in Greater Vancouver have many names and they are not unfamiliar to any of us. You are likely reading this, not from your 5 million dollar condo, or cruising False Creek in your 40-foot sailboat. You are likely, like most of us, comfortable in a job that offers you look forward to one vacation a year or earn just enough to save for a home renovation project. You work hard, you play economically. You have proudly built towards a healthy life balance.

According to the 2015 census, the median total income of households in Vancouver was $72,662. To bring this into perspective with a job description. $70K comes from years working up to a job with some responsibility or living with a partner where both work in a team in the middle of their career. 

But what does life look like as the average Vancouverite? 

Rent costs about one-third of your income, a one-bedroom apartment in the City Centre is $2,054.02, outside of the city, it’s a little cheaper at  $1658,63. This leaves approximately $3800 for living expenses. Living locally, your zone 1 bus pass costs $98/ month, your food cost, phone, internet, clothing, and entertainment is estimated, for a single person to be $1,143.21 although, a single night out will quickly run $60 and up and much more when event tickets come into play.

So this means the average Vancouverite has just over $2000 a month to get ahead. But Working Gear clients are not the average Vancouverites, they are low income and according to the last census low income represents 16% of Metro Vancouver citizens.

The reality of low income? 

According to Stats Canada for a one-person household, the after-tax low-income measure was $22,460 in 2015. That’s only $1872/ month which must cover rent and all you need to survive. 

  • It means for our clients everything outside of basic needs is a decision of what to sacrifice.
  • It means living out of the city and paying almost double for a bus pass.
  • It means longer commutes to the city, and sometimes, restricted transit access.
  • It means food, phone, and “life” must fit into just over $200/ month. 

Now that you have the perspective. Let’s look at the cost of safety gear. What does it cost to start that first day of work if you start with nothing? 

The current price of gear

In British Columbia, an employer must enforce the use of safety gear even if they do not provide it. Hard hats and reflective vests may be what is commonly envisioned but safety gear is highly specific to the job’s needs. Slip-proof boots, rain gear, and ear protection can be just as important to prevent injury. 

But, there is something uplifting about ownership. Safety equipment is personal. It is essential and it is not something easily shared. Perhaps this is why it is the first thing a worker will invest in. 

* From Mark’s online sales

Safety Gear

A reflective vest $21-149,

Safety Glasses $19,

Hard hats $59,

Ear protection $9-$24.

Boots, gloves, jackets and more are designed and priced for a competitive marketplace making smarter and more expensive components all the time. 

Personal Gear

Work Boots $64-159,

Work Jacket $69-$181, and up,

Rain gear is $24-259 and reflective starts at $144,

Covers for Your Shoes $29-69,

Overalls $59-209,

Work Pants $64-94,

Glove $10-43,

Socks $23.

Work Safe Gear

Work Safe Gear

How working gear helps

Working Gear is thrilled at providing the ability to level the field with mildly used or new materials so our clients can simply offer their best on that first week.

The reality that no one voices, but we know, is adequate gear is not good enough. We ensure the donations we carry are working quality, not an outdated by 20 years, hand-me-downs.

So the way we help is by respecting our client’s needs and feelings. Our volunteers could never truly understand what the strain of low income is like. but they are sure thinking about what it might feel like.

It’s compassion infused footwear (and men’s workwear), that we specialize in.


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