On September 1, minimum wage in Alberta increased by twenty cents to $9.95 per hour. While an increase to the minimum wage is necessary, this change means that Alberta will still have the lowest paid workers and women in the country.
Minimum wage in our province is far from what an individual or family needs to get by. And these low-income positions are often precarious in nature; one crisis is all it takes to plunge further into the depths of poverty.
A living wage, as defined by Vibrant Communities Calgary, provides enough to afford the basic necessities of life and save a little for the future. In Calgary, this amounts to $14.50 per hour without benefits or $13.00 per hour with benefits.
According to Public Interest Alberta, one in five people living in our province earns less than a living wage, and women are disproportionately affected with the majority of low-wage workers being women over the age of 20. In Calgary alone, you could fill the Saddledome more than four times with the 81,400 women who earn less than a living wage.
At the Women’s Centre, we strive to ensure that women’s voices are heard at the municipal and provincial levels of government, especially when it comes to policy work aimed at addressing poverty. Next week we will host a community led-discussion on women and poverty and submit the results as part of the Provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy. At a civic level, we will also continue to monitor the work of the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative (CPRI). The CPRI’s plan for poverty reduction was approved by council this past spring.
How you can get involved:
Until the end of this month, the Alberta government is collecting feedback for a Provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy. You can provide your input by submitting a blog, editing a wiki and/or filling out an online survey here.
Photo credit: Calgary Skyline by Chad Goddard (Flickr CC)