BY CLAIRE THEOBALD | FIRST POSTED: MONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2016 04:36 PM MST | UPDATED: MONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2016 04:46 PM MST
Poverty in our community can be hard to see, but it’s even harder for thousands of impoverished families in Edmonton to escape.
In Edmonton alone, nearly one in five children live in poverty. That’s more than 32,000 children living in situations where even basic necessities can be out of reach.
While it might be easy to try to blame the issue on irresponsible parents, a tough economic climate in Alberta has shown just how dangerously close many working families are to sliding over the poverty line.
In November alone, Alberta lost 13,000 jobs. With 11,000 more people looking for work, Alberta’s unemployment rate reached nine per cent, the highest it’s been since 1994.
Between December 2014 and April 2016, 3,853 oil and gas extraction jobs were lost in Alberta, with another 29,196 positions in careers supporting oil and gas extraction slashed as gas prices continue to languish.
Employment insurance benefits were extended to help lessen the blow, but good jobs have been slow to return.
Even for those lucky enough to hold onto their jobs over the Christmas season, many working families still don’t have the resources they need to cover the costs of their basic needs.
Nearly a quarter of Alberta’s labour force is employed in low-wage jobs earning less than $16 per hour, and well over half of those low-wage earners are older than 25.
In order to be able to afford a basic standard of living in Edmonton, the Edmonton Social Planning Council estimates that two working adults caring for two children would each have to earn at least $17.36 per hour — and that’s with government support factored in.
Nearly 60 per cent of children living in poverty in Alberta have at least one adult working full time in their household.