Edmonton Social Planning Council News

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For Immediate Release

(Edmonton) The Edmonton Social Planning Council (ESPC) estimates that two working adults, caring for two children, would need to each earn $17.36 per hour to meet the family’s basic needs.

The living wage is calculated using a detailed financial accounting based on the actual local costs of food, rent, utilities, clothing, child care, transportation, communications and more. The calculation is based on the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ 
(CCPA) Living Wage Canada frame work that other cities have used. 

“This living wage comes at a time when our provincial government is raising the minimum wage. Our calculation gives all levels of government and employers a comprehensive picture of what it costs to live in this city,” said ESPC executive director Susan Morrissey. “Not only does it serve as a way to compare Edmonton’s cost of living with other cities, but the living wage is also an effective tool in reducing poverty.” 

The calculation places Edmonton slightly above Calgary’s living wage of $17.29 calculated in 2014, Red Deer’s $16.48 calculated in 2013 and Grande Prairie’s $15.55 calculated in 2012. 

“The issues surrounding poverty are incredibly complex.  We need the right tools for planning and the right strategies in place to address these issues,” said Allan Undheim, Vice-President of Community Building and Investment for United Way of the Alberta Capital Region. “This is why the living wage calculation is such an important tool as government, business and the not-for-profit sector work together on plans to help people gain valuable skills and take advantage of opportunities that will see them reach their earning potential and better provide for themselves and their families.” 

Employer Usman Tahir Jutt says he is generally supportive of the living wage calculation. 

“Understanding our city and its people is a fundamental step to addressing the challenges we face,” said Jutt, an owner of two restaurants. “Data like this gives insight into the fabric of our society. This first step will open the doors to further dialogue and research into how we can get closer to creating a city future generations will be proud to call home.” 

ESPC is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan social research organization, with registered charitable status with a focus on social research, particularly in the areas of low income and poverty.

For more information: 
Susan Morrissey 
ESPC Executive Director 
(780) 218-7395 cell
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Information about living wages nationally is available at: www.livingwagecanada.ca

Edmonton’s living wage report is available at: More Than Minimum - Calculating Edmonton’s Living Wage

Backgrounder

Edmonton’s Living Wage of $17.36 is calculated using the typical expenses of a family of four living in a three-bedroom rental apartment, with two adults working 35 hours each a week, with one adult enrolled in school part-time, with two children, aged three and seven. The calculation is based on this equation:

Annual Family Expenses = Employment Income + Income from Government Transfers – Taxes

Major Family Monthly Expenses

  • Food - $884.17
  • Clothing and Footwear - $164.04
  • Shelter - $1,416
  • Transportation - $460.47
  • Utilities - $218.96
  • Bank Fees - $24.50
  • Communications (cable, cell-phone) - $148
  • Child Care - $1,406.33
  • Extended Health/Dental - $260
  • Child school fees - $20
  • Parent’s continuing education - $143.04
  • Household furnishings, misc - $441.04
  • Contingency fund - $101.27

Total - $5,687.94

Non-Wage Monthly Income (Government Transfers)

  • Canada Child Tax Benefit - $196.44
  • Universal Child Care Benefit - $220
  • Child Care Subsidy - $634
  • Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit - $57.02

Total - $1,107.46

Monthly Household Income Less Government Deductions plus Gov. Transfers

  • Employment Income - $63,190.40
  • Taxes - $8,218.54
  • After-Tax Income - $54,971.86
  • Non-Wage Income - $13,289.46
  • Available Income - $68,261.32
  • Family Expenses- $68,255.24
  • Gap - $6.08

Living Wage - $34.72 (divided by two adults) $17.36

This calculation does not take into account the costs of debt payments, savings for retirement, vacations, or for their children’s post-secondary education.

While a minimum wage reflects the hourly wage employers must legally pay their employees, a living wage represents the hourly wage needed to cover the costs of living at a modest level in a specific community.

Minimum wages do not come close to meeting the actual cost of living for individuals and families, whereas a living wage can make a world of difference in health outcomes and quality of life.

From an employers’ perspective, research indicates that employers providing a living wage benefit from decreased staff turnover, improved productivity and reduced absenteeism. Employers may also benefit from having a reputation as a business with a record of social responsibility.

Examples of other cities with living wages:

  • Grande Prairie - $15.55 (2012)
  • Red Deer - $16.48 (2013)
  • Calgary - $17.29 (2014)
  • Toronto - $18.52 (2015)
  • Victoria - $18.93 (2014)
  • Vancouver - $20.10 (2014)

The living wage rate varies across Canada due to differences in the cost of living and government transfers, as it is based on local and provincial costs for goods such as food, housing, health care, transportation and child care.

Thirty cities in four provinces have engaged in local discussions on how to create living wage communities.