Some of the striking economic differences I have noticed between BC and Zambia are:
Wages--minimum wage is now $10/hr, I think? in BC. Here in Zambia we pay our gardener the equivalent of 50 cents an hour. He works hard outside in the sun...we're giving him a small raise this month. Labour here is cheap.
Cell phones--I never bothered with one in BC. They are expensive, even on a pay-as-you-go plan. Michelle had one for emergencies. Here in Zambia I bought a simple one for $20. SMS (texting) is free to receive and only 4 cents to send, on a true pay-as-you-go SIM card plan. Most people seem to constantly be running out of airtime, though.
Food--Prices for western food are comparable. However, if you eat two meals of nshima per day with pumpkin leaves and groundnuts, you will not be spending very much money.
Rent--our 5 bedroom house on a large lot is a steal at $400 US/month. However, it's a bit of a fixer-upper. :) Rent for a similar place in BC--maybe $1300?
Prescription Drugs--ridiculously cheap in Zambia, though probiotics seem to be more expensive. Most drugs available over the counter, prescription or not...
Trades--we had a plumber fix a couple of things in our home. He worked for about 2 hours and charged us 60 kwacha (about $12). All of his tools fit on the back of his bicycle. In BC the plumbers I met generally had a large van or a trailer to transport all their tools, and charged upwards of $200 an hour.
Employment--Unemployment is very high (I'm not sure of the number, but judging by the number of people who have come up to me on the street and asked me for a job, it's big). In Canada I have felt the sting of different recessions a bit as layoffs at work have continued. It's still nothing compared to Zambia, though.