Calgary’s living wage continues to rise

A day after a report says a Calgarian needs to make $23.70 an hour to cover basic expenses, Henna Saeed finds out if people feel they’re able to live their best Calgary life or if they’re merely existing?

A study by the Alberta Living Wage Network has found Calgarians need to make $23.70 an hour to live and be able to afford adequate food, shelter, and other necessities.

That is nearly $9 more than the province’s current minimum wage, and according to the report, had it not been for affordability measures enacted by the feds and the provincial government, the calculation would be closer to $25 per hour.

Meaghon Reid, executive director of Vibrant Communities Calgary, say the cost of shelter was the highest driver of this year’s number.

“We know that shelter costs, if you’re a renter for example, went up as much as 40 per cent year over year,” she said.

Watch: Almost 115,000 Calgarians on brink of homelessness: study

Electricity also increased by 39 per cent over the year, which added to the cost of housing.

This comes as new research out of the University of Calgary indicates almost 115,000 Calgarians are on the brink of homelessness.

Reid explains it’s not just teens living with their parents who are making lower wages.

“We realize that 85 per cent of workers earning $20 an hour and under are adults and 36 per cent of those adults have children,” she said.

As a result, Reid says the rate of homeless children is being impacted, adding the social sector can only go so far in terms of supporting basic needs.

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“So, if we look at food bank usage, that increases exponentially — almost weekly at this point,” she said. “If we look at services that help people with basic needs or crisis so services like the Distress Centre — their calls are higher than they’ve ever been.”

Reid says there measures the city can take to help Calgarians keep a roof over their heads.

“Access a basic needs fund, or keep their energy prices fairly steady, or access things like a fair entity program that do just keep those costs lower for Calgarians,” she explained.

She is encouraging the federal government to address the housing crisis with “extraordinary urgency.”

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