Article

The pandemic has emphasized the importance of paying people living wages

New report highlights income required to sufficiently cover the cost of living in Calgary

17 March 2021

Reflecting on the past year many truths have been uncovered. We’ve discovered the importance of front-line workers risking their health to enable us to buy groceries or deliver packages or food. We’ve discovered the importance of care workers and meat packing plant workers, who despite challenging work conditions can often be among the lowest paid. We’ve discovered that the lowest paid were the hardest hit by the pandemic.

And despite the economic downturn, little has changed in terms of the cost of living in Calgary.

After a one-year hiatus, Vibrant Communities Calgary felt it was important to calculate a new living wage reflecting how expensive it is to live in a city like Calgary. The new living wage for Calgary is $20.69 per hour.  

How is it calculated?

The living wage is calculated on the income needs of a two-parent family with two young children. It considers the hourly rate of pay needed for a household to meet its basic needs once government transfers have been added to the family’s income and taxes have been subtracted. The methodology assumes that both parents are working full-time hours of employment. Indicators include more than the basics of food, clothing and shelter, the calculator also takes into account unexpected costs, small investments in education, and home costs.

But, why now?

We know businesses have faced challenges over the past year. The intention of releasing the number is not to add further stress to these companies, but to shed some light on what it actually costs to live in the city.

The evidence is also clear that increasing wages for the lowest paid employees can also be an effective spark for the economy because the lowest paid workers are more likely to spend in their communities. This is especially important as policy makers are talking about the post-pandemic recovery.

We invite you to review the 2020 Living Wage Brief and some common questions and answers. For support in becoming a living wage employer connect with the Alberta Living Wage Network.

And despite the economic downturn, little has changed in terms of the cost of living in Calgary.

Resources

  • The Alberta Living Wage Network is made up of community organizations, businesses and municipalities with the goal of encouraging employers and policymakers to implement a living wage and best practices across the province that would help businesses thrive and Albertans earn livable incomes.
  • Studies show that living wage employers also cut costs when it comes to hiring and training new employees. Learn more in How Living Wages Benefit Employers.
  • The Living Wage for Families Campaign is a B.C.-based organization that certifies employers that pay a living wage and advocates for complementary government policies that would help families make ends meet. They publish Living Wage Facts & Myths.