Living wage update stalled amid COVID challenges

Vibrant Communities Calgary (VCC) has been working on the Living Wage initiative for over a decade. The living wage for Calgary was last updated in 2018 and is currently at $16.45 per hour (see the 2018 living wage brief). For two years VCC has been actively involved in the creation of the Alberta Living Wage Network. The Network aims to create a standardized calculator available for any region in Alberta, and is made up of community organizations, businesses and municipalities, including representatives from Calgary, Edmonton, Canmore, Red Deer, Chestermere, Drumheller, and Cochrane. The Network works to advance a coordinated living wage movement in Alberta. The Network will assist communities in their annual living wage calculation; and develop the provincial living wage leaders (employers) program.

With the current health crisis, the development of the calculator has stalled, which has delayed the release of Calgary’s 2019 living wage. VCC regrets the delay as we understand many of our stakeholders rely on the number as a tool for advocacy. We have decided to publish the 2020 living wage this summer using the new 2018 Market Basket Measure to calculate Calgary’s expenses for the reference family of four.

What is a Living Wage? A living wage is the hourly rate of pay that a family of four would need to cover the cost of living in Calgary. At VCC we believe that an adequate income that covers the actual cost of living in any given region is a vital component to a healthy and thriving society. People need more than the bare minimum to be healthy and to stay out of poverty, this includes enough income to cover bank fees, education and training, internet costs, and the ability to save for the future. The living wage calculation is also a proxy for the cost of living in Calgary.

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