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Calgary income poverty rate drops; living wage gap narrows

Positive changes to social policy are behind a significant drop in Calgary’s income poverty, according to the city organization behind a new report.

Vibrant Communities Calgary’s (VCC) 2019 snapshot shows that income poverty in Calgary and area dropped to 6.9 per cent in 2019. That’s down from 9.8 per cent between 2015 and 2017.

VCC is a non-profit organization that advocates for long-term strategies that address the root cause of poverty in Calgary.

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“Doing our own research, taking a deeper dive into income poverty at the local level, and sharing that information with Enough for All stakeholders is essential to our role as stewards of the strategy,” said Lee Stevens, Community Engagement Specialist & Public Policy Coordinator with Vibrant Communities Calgary, in a prepared release.

Their review concluded that overall income poverty in Calgary has decreased, though they said it didn’t explore changes to deep income poverty, so they don’t know if it’s also trending downward.

Calgary poverty measures

The gap between Calgary’s living wage and the minimum wage is at a historic low, the report showed. The gap is now only eight per cent, with living wage being calculated at $16.45 per hour and minimum wage at $15.

The report did find that social assistance does fall short of the poverty line, with benefit levels for income support only reaching 50 per cent of the poverty line.

The VCC said with the establishment of an official poverty line, it should create alignment across municipalities, provinces and territories in measuring and reporting on poverty.

 “We have to be evidence-informed in our own decision-making, and we expect government to do the same,” said Franco Savoia, Executive Director at VCC. 

The VCC report builds on their 2018 snapshot and includes information from the Enough for All report and its 2.0 version, and Opportunity for All: Canada’s National Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Full report is below.

A Snapshot of Poverty in Calgary in 2019 by Darren Krause on Scribd