Enough for All’s Goal:
Everyone in Calgary has the income and assets needed to thrive.
Poverty isn’t just about income, but it’s always about income. The Enough for All strategy recognizes the critical importance of providing all Calgarians with the opportunity to build economic and financial capacities which enable them to not only meet their basic needs, but to thrive. The strategy seeks to accomplish this through community-based approaches to economic development and asset-building.
Calgary’s 2017 Living Wage is $18.15/hour
According to the Alberta Minimum Wage Profile April 2015 – March 2016, 3.1% of Albertans earn a minimum wage, nearly half (45%) of minimum wage earners are not teenagers, but are parents themselves. Meeting even the most basic needs for a family earning minimum wage is a struggle across the province. Simply working is not enough to keep families out of poverty in our city.
The Low Income Cut-off Before-Tax, a commonly used “poverty line” for a family of four, is $45,712. If there are two working parents, each would need to be earning a minimum $12.55 an hour to live at the poverty line. However, based on the Living Wage calculator, a family of four would struggle tremendously to live a modest life of some dignity while earning that amount. Minimum wage in Alberta, as of October 2016, is just below that rate. The Government of Alberta has legislated an eventual increase of the provincial minimum wage up to $15.00/hour by 2018.
To learn more about a Living Wage in Calgary, download our program summary.
Click here for a summary of the 2016 Living Wage Stakeholder Engagement process.
This area involves action by people locally to create economic opportunities that improve social conditions, particularly for those who are most disadvantaged. Research and experience demonstrate that rapid, unbridled economic growth does not serve all members of a community equally. The type of that growth matters, and Enough For All recommends supporting CED approaches that provide the greatest social benefit. Projects within this focus area include encouraging for-profit and not-for-profit social enterprise, co-operative development, and exploring opportunities for local investment.
Enough For All also recognizes the critical importance of engaging with local businesses to consider the social impact of their internal policies and practices. VCC is looking to support the business sector in adopting “inclusive business practices”, including ethical procurement, compensation in consideration of Calgary’s Living Wage, providing key employment supports, progressive hiring practices to ensure diversity and providing opportunities for workers with disabilities.
A range of opportunities and supports are needed to support households to increase income and build a cushion of savings that contributes to long term resiliency. Economic and financial resiliency requires an adequate income, knowledge concerning and access to affordable financial products and services, as well as supports and incentives to encourage savings and file personal income tax claims.
The Financial Empowerment Collaborative comprises a community of practice and leading partners invested in creating a city where every Calgarian has the opportunity to build financial resiliency. The United Way of Calgary and Area, the City of Calgary, the Government of Alberta, VCC, Momentum and Bow Valley College are collaborating closely to develop:
-Safe and affordable financial products
-Basic needs assistance
-Free tax clinics
For more information about Financial Empowerment initiatives, click here.
Enough for All collaborators are working tirelessly to advocate for public policy changes related to Income Supports to better meet the needs of Calgary’s most vulnerable citizens.
When a household or individual has little to no source of employment income, their income may be subsidized in part or in full, through government income supports such as Alberta Works or AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped). These amounts are not significant; AlbertaWorks can be as low as $583 for a single individual expected to work, and AISH is $1588/month. Opportunities to save or invest are slim when a household’s monthly income is so low.
Furthermore, individuals and families are expected to use up much of their existing savings and investments (if they exist) to be eligible for these programs. As such, community leaders such as Momentum, have been working tirelessly with all orders of government to encourage an asset-building approach that encourages low-income Albertans to keep their savings by raising asset limits for Income Support benefits and grow their savings by investing in effective matched savings programs as an incentive to save.
Collaborative efforts are calling on reforms to address the impact of the use of payday loan and fringe financial businesses on low-income Calgarians. In The Real Cost of Payday Lending, research found that payday lenders charge interest rates that top 400% when annualized and are largely located in lower income neighborhoods. A collaborative known as the Rise of the Cash Store Committee was convened to work with all orders of government to explore policy recommendations that could change the tides on the exploitative practices found within the payday lending industry. Recommendations included changing the allowable density of payday lending businesses in any given area, convene banking institutions to offer affordable products and services at reasonable interest rates and to reduce interest rate levels below the federal 60% maximum.