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Edmonton's living wage jumped by $1.54 an hour in 2 years: report

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EDMONTON -

The minimum income needed to maintain a modest standard of living in Edmonton has increased by more than $1.50 an hour since 2019, the Alberta Living Wage Network (ALWN) found.

The ALWN, a newly launched network of local agencies and municipalities, released its list of 2021 living wages for 12 Alberta municipalities on Monday.

The living wage for Edmontonians was calculated at $18.10 an hour, compared to $16.56 per hour two years ago.

According to the ALWN, a living wage is calculated based on the income needs of a young family of four to maintain a modest standard of living after government transfers have been added and taxes have been subtracted. 

“We’re not talking about living high on the hog by any means, even within a living wage," executive director for the Edmonton Social Planning Council (ESPC) Susan Morrissey told CTV News Edmonton.

"It’s what people need to do in order to not have to be all stressed out about where they’re going to buy their groceries, whether they have to go to the food bank, whether they can continue to rent where they live."

Morrissey said the ESPC hopes the latest numbers help people recognize that a living wage is not the same as minimum wage.

"As costs continue to go up, and we see this every single day, cost of food going up, cost of utilities, whatever, minimum wage is really not keeping pace with that," she said.

"(The living wage) is beyond just minimum of what people need to live. This is the ability to live with a little bit of dignity, with a modest income that covers off your food costs, appropriate shelter costs, transportation, maybe a little bit of money set aside for the odd emergency."

Alberta's minimum wage is $15 an hour, but that figure is currently under review by the province.

The ESPC executive director said Alberta employers should be expected to pay their workers a living wage at least.

"I think it's good for our province," said Morrissey. "It increases spending power when people have money in their wallets."

"How do low income individuals spend their money when they have it? They spend it on their kids, they spend it on better quality food, they spend it on more appropriate housing and safe housing."

Morrissey also pointed out that a single individual, or single parent household would need a higher income than the listed living wage.

"You've only got one income coming into the household, or in the case of a single person you don't necessarily qualify for any subsidies or any of the government transfers and help that a single parent may be."

The living wage calculated for Edmonton was on the lower end compared to some other Alberta communities.

Canmore was deemed the most expensive with a living wage of $37.40 an hour, while Strathcona County was listed as the least expensive at $16.80 an hour.

Here is the ALWN's full list of living wages for 2021:

  • Calgary: $18.60
  • Canmore: $37.40
  • Chestermere: $18.60
  • Cochrane: $22.60
  • Drumheller: $19.70
  • Edmonton: $18.10
  • Fort McMurray: $27.35
  • Lethbridge: $19.00
  • Red Deer: $17.15
  • Rocky Mountain House: $18.05
  • Stony Plain: $17.20
  • Strathcona County: $16.80

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