A living wage is rooted in the belief that individuals and families should not just survive, but live in dignity, and participate in the community. The living wage is defined as the hourly wage that a primary income earner must make to provide for themselves, their families, and reach basic financial security. It allows for a higher standard of living than what is included in the Market Basket Measure, which is based on subsistence living. The living wage includes participation in recreation, extended health and dental plan, and a minor emergency contingency fund. However, it does not include items that would allow families to “get ahead”, such as putting away savings or paying down debt.
This is the fifth year that the Edmonton Social Planning Council has calculated Edmonton’s living wage. It is based on the Canadian Living Wage Framework (2015) created by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). Living wages are calculated across Canada, with participating communities in Alberta; Calgary, Canmore, Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat, and Red Deer calculate a living wage with their community.
A living wage is not the same as the minimum wage. The minimum wage is the wage mandated by the provincial government that employers must pay all workers. Currently, in Alberta, the minimum wage is $15.00 per hour and $13.00 per hour for workers under the age of 18. The minimum wage is typically lower than the living wage (Government of Canada, 2017).