E4A in Action

Calgary’s Living Wage is $22.40 per hour

Not surprisingly, the cost of living is up over last year

14 November 2022

Illustration of city of Calgary buildings

2022 living wage

VCC in collaboration with the Alberta Living Wage Network has published a new living wage, reflecting what it costs to live in a city like Calgary. The new living wage for Calgary is $22.40 per hour. It’s probably not surprising that it’s gone up especially since many are feeling the pinch at the grocery store and the gas pump. This page will help you learn more about living wages and actions businesses and policymakers can take to make life more affordable for those living on low incomes.

What's a living wage?

A living wage is a proxy for the cost of living in a community. It is determined by calculating average expenses, taxes, and government transfers for a given household using local costs. A living wage considers the basic needs of an average household, plus the additional costs we all incur from time to time and government benefits. It allow a household to have a modest standard of living, and build their human and financial assets. Employment income that is sufficient to cover the cost of living is vital to reducing poverty and building a resilient city and economy.

Calculating the living wage

The living wage is calculated based on a weighted average of the income needs of three household types: two-parent family with two young children (32.6%); single parent with one young child (7.7%); and single individual with no children (59.6%). This is a different approach than 2021 Living Wage, which used the income needs of a two-parent family with two kids.

The methodology for calculating Calgary's living wage assumes that all adults in the household are working full-time hours and the following inputs are included:

Elements in the living wage calculation

How are living wages different from minimum wages?

Minimum wages are legislated by the provincial government and are set so that no employer may pay below the legal minimum. It currently sits at $15 per hour for most employees and $13 per hour for people under the age of 18 and hasn’t gone up since 2018. Alberta is the only province that didn’t increase its minimum wage in 2022, and is one of four provinces that doesn’t periodically adjust minimum wage based on the cost of living.

About 200,000 Albertans are on minimum wage in our province and in Calgary, the living wage is almost 50% higher than the minimum wage.

Living wages across Canada

There are many communities that publish living wage across Canada and formally established networks in Ontario and British Columbia. Annual figures are also released by organizations in Quebec, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

Calculating and publishing living wages informs about local affordability measures and how they compare to other cities and provinces. Equipped with this information, policymakers can evaluate how measures like utility rate caps and action on affordable housing and food can affect lower income workers in a city.

Certified living wage employers

Employees that pay a living wage directly or through a combination of wages and basic needs benefits, may be eligible for living wage certification through the Alberta Living Wage Network.

Studies show that living wage employers experience a decrease in employee turnover and absenteeism, increased retention and productivity, and savings on rehiring and retraining. Employers can also use the living wage as a tool within their recruitment strategy for lower paying occupations. Living Wage Employers receive public recognition for demonstrating a commitment to socially responsible practices, making them more attractive to potential employees and customers. The Living Wage Employer Program recognizes and celebrates employers that pay their direct and indirect employees a living wage.


Calgary's Living Wage

VCC works in collaboration with the Alberta Living Wage Network to calculate the annual living wage.