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Several Lethbridge non-profits commit to paying employees living wage

The living wage for Lethbridge was calculated to be $19 an hour. The current provincial minimum wage is $15 an hour. The living wage for Lethbridge was calculated to be $19 an hour. The current provincial minimum wage is $15 an hour.
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LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -

Four Lethbridge-based non-profits are now living-wage employers.

Volunteer Lethbridge, Lethbridge Food Bank, Interfaith Food Bank Society and United Way of Lethbridge and South Western Alberta announced their commitments Tuesday.

“We're just a very close-knit group of organizations in Lethbridge that are working to serve our community and to better our community,” said Amanda Jensen, executive director for Volunteer Lethbridge.

A living wage in any given community is the hourly wage someone needs to earn to be able to live somewhat comfortably.

The living wage for Lethbridge was calculated to be $19 an hour.

The current provincial minimum wage is $15 an hour.

Jensen says there are people in the community surprised to see the local living wage so high.

“It is a little bit surprising for some to realize that the living wage was calculated higher in Lethbridge than in some other communities,” said Jensen.

Mat Nichol, executive director for Lethbridge Food Bank, is thrilled for his organization to be taking part in the initiative.

“Living wage is extremely important for us,” said Nichol.

“As a poverty-reduction group, it doesn't make sense for us to not employ people at that level as well, and to make sure the people who work here can take care of others.”

But for some local businesses, paying a living wage is not so simple.

“We are being interviewed daily about businesses closing, so operating costs are a real thing whether you're a non-profit or a for-profit,” says Cyndi Bester, Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce CEO.

“Those operating costs and staying within your budget is a real challenge right now.”

Bester says there are many businesses and organizations in Lethbridge capable of paying a living wage and currently doing so but that inflation has limited the ability of others to follow suit.

“Many organizations, whether they’re non-profit or for-profit, cannot afford a $19-an-hour wage. It's just not feasible” said Bester.

An updated calculation for a living wage in Lethbridge is set to be released next month.

It’s expected the number will rise. 

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