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Alberta's minimum wage not a living wage: Vibrant Communities Calgary


Vibrant Communities Calgary, along with the Alberta Living Wage Network, has determined a single person in Calgary needs to make a minimum of $18.60 an hour to survive.

The agency, as it has done since 2008, assessed living wages in communities across the province and published its findings as a resource for employers and policy makers.

The living wage is calculated through average expenses using local costs, subtracting taxes, and adding government transfers. It's directly tied to the cost of living as it increase or falls, and has increased dramatically in the past few years.

According to Vibrant Communities Calgary, a family of four in Calgary in 2018 needed to earn $66,796.89 per year to achieve a modest standard of living. 

In 2021, that same family of four in Calgary needs nearly $15,000 more, requiring $81,293.20 to achieve the same standard of living.

The largest increases in cost have been in food prices and childcare, while the cost of housing has fallen slightly.

Calgary’s living wage is in the lower half of the 12 communities participating in this year's survey.  

The community needing the highest wage to sustain a moderate lifestyle is Canmore coming in at a whopping $37.40 per hour, followed by Fort McMurray at $27.35.

Full listing of 2021 Alberta living wages by community:

  • Calgary: $18.60
  • Canmore: $37.40
  • Chestermere: $18.60
  • Cochrane: $22.60
  • Drumheller: $19.70
  • Edmonton: $18.10
  • Fort McMurray: $27.35
  • Lethbridge $19.00
  • Red Deer $17.15
  • Rocky Mountain House $18.05
  • Stony Plain: $17.20
  • Strathcona County: $16.80

According to the Alberta Living Wage Council, about 400,000 Albertans are low income and roughly 60 per cent of those are considered to be 'working poor.'

"These Albertans often have to work multiple jobs just to get by," explained Franco Savoia, Alberta Living Wage Council chair. "While struggling to support themselves and their families, it becomes difficult to save for the future or to be financially resilient when faced with difficult life events that cause unforeseen expenses.

"Living wages help lift up these individuals and are a necessary component to resilient cities and the economy."

Presently, Alberta’s minimum wage is set at $15 per hour but it's currently under review.

"The panel will publish all of the available economic data on the labour market impact of the minimum wage changes," read a statement on the website of the ministry of labor and immigration regarding the panel's review of minimum wage. "The experts will also assess whether hospitality industry workers who serve alcohol would benefit from a wage differential allowing them to work more hours."

Joseph Dow, press secretary for Labour and Immigration Minister Tyler Shandro, confirms to CTV News that the panel has finished its work and the report has been submitted to government, but is not yet public. Dow could not say when it would be released.

A full breakdown of the calculation used by Vibrant Communities Calgary to determine the living wage can be found here

More information about the Alberta government's review of minimum wage can be found here. Top Stories

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