As inflation drives up the cost of living in Calgary, so goes the living wage for residents.
The living wage for Calgary increased from $22.40 in 2022 to $23.70 in 2023, according to The Alberta Living Wage Network.
The Alberta Living Wage Network is a collaborative effort involving municipalities and community organizations that assess the affordability and livability of communities in Alberta by estimating various essential expenses, such as food, water, electricity, and gas.
“This year we have faced affordability challenges like nothing I’ve seen in my career, said Meaghon Reid, executive director with Vibrant Calgary.
This calculation takes into account the income requirements of three household scenarios: A two-parent family with two young children, a single parent with one child, and an individual living alone. It presumes that each adult is employed full-time and encompasses provisions for unexpected expenses, ongoing education, childcare, and a modest allowance for community involvement.
The minimum wage established by the provincial government is often lower than the living wage. Currently, the minimum wage in Alberta is $15 per hour for adult workers. It’s $13 per hour for workers under the age of 18.
The highest living wage in Alberta is still held by Canmore at $38.80
Living wage week
The living wage is announced during living wage week (starting Nov. 6). The 2023/2024 living wage numbers were announced Nov. 8, 2023.
More than 60% of individuals in low-income brackets are employed. Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a substantial proportion of Canadians living in poverty, ranging from 50-70 per cent, held jobs, often managing multiple positions. Alberta has one of the highest rates of working poverty in Canada, according to the Edmonton Social Planning Council
A 2023 study on food bank usage revealed that 14.1 per cent of food bank clients identified employment as their primary source of income.
“Our living wage commitment ensures our single parent employees don’t have to choose between paying for rent or food, our disabled employees don’t have to choose between paying for utilities or food and our younger employees don’t have to choose between paying for a winter jacket or food,” said Ryan Lacanilao, coordinator at the Alberta Living Wage Network.
“Our organizational commitment allows our employees to not just survive but thrive in times of economic instability.”
The majority of individuals earning below a living wage are not young adults living with their parents. According to the most recent StatsCan Labour Force Survey spanning from September 2020 to August 2021, approximately 45 per cent of these individuals have children, and 59 per cent are over the age of 25.