The Alberta Federation of Labour feels strongly that people working full-time hours should earn enough to ensure that they and their families can live above the poverty line. How much would a person have to earn in order to achieve that goal?
According to research conducted by Vibrant Communities Calgary and the Edmonton Social Planning Council, a person working 35 hours a week for 52 weeks per year would need to earn $18.15/hour in Calgary and $17.36/hour in Edmonton in order to avoid poverty. For a person working 40 hours a week for 52 weeks per year, that figure would be closer to $15/hour.
Based on these calculations, it’s clear that the current minimum wage of $12.20 is not even close to being a living wage. The results of this gap between the current minimum wage and a real living wage can be seen in the growing number of people who have been forced to use food banks over the past decade.
In Alberta, reliance on food banks increased 23.4% from 2014 to 2015 and 82.8% since 2008. Just over 41 per cent of all food bank users are children and one third of households using food banks were led by people with jobs – the highest rate of “working poverty” in the country. Too many parents are making poverty level wages, even though they are working hard to provide for their families.