For many years, the City of Edmonton has experienced strong population and employment growth, significantly above the national average. Many have praised the city for its high standard of living, skilled population and plentiful opportunities. But what is becoming increasingly clear is that all citizens have not shared in this optimistic outlook. The most recent available data finds that one in eight Edmontonians live in poverty. One in five children live in a poor family.
This report attempts to calculate what it actually costs to live a basic or modest life. The calculation is based on a framework developed by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). Since it was created, the framework has been used by cities across Canada to calculate each city’s living wage.
We have calculated Edmonton’s living wage to be $17.36 per hour. This hourly wage is determined by using the CCPA framework that utilizes a common household structure in order to enable comparisons between municipalities.
Edmonton’s living wage, like other cities’ living wages, is based on the income, expenses and government income transfers of a family of four. This family lives in a rented three-bedroom apartment. They have two children, one aged three and the other aged seven. One parent drives the family car to work while the other takes public transit. For the purposes of this calculation, both parents work 35 hours a week and earn $17.36 per hour to pay for their food, shelter, utilities, clothing, transportation, child care, school fees, post-secondary tuition and more. This family’s available income, including government income transfers, is $68,261.32.
It is important to also note what this calculation does not take into account: common expenses such as debt payments, savings for retirement, vacation, or savings for the children’s post-secondary education.
Once the family’s expenses have been added up, this report looks at the income side of the family’s balance sheet, including both employment income and a wide range of government transfers and supports such as child care benefits.
So, now that we have a living wage calculation for Edmonton, what do we do with it? This living wage calculation can serve as a guide to any employer in the public, private or not-for-profit sector that chooses to become a living wage employer. This living wage provides a current and realistic picture of what it actually costs for a family of four to maintain a modest standard of living in Edmonton.