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Lowest living wage in the province in Medicine Hat sounds good, but…

Posted on November 24, 2022 by Ryan Dahlman

By Ryan Dahlman

Hey southeast Alberta, if you are struggling economically, don’t worry, the Alberta Living Wage Network says you are fortunate to be here.  

Just read the and hear the discussion on the criteria of how if you make $17.50 per hour you shouldn’t have any issues living and you will not go into deficit. 

The Alberta Living Wage network consists of a collaboration of many municipal governments and a sprinkling of community organizations. In Southern Alberta, these municipal groups consist of Medicine Hat Community Housing Society, City of Medicine Hat, United Way Lethbridge & South Western Alberta and Social Health Equity Network of Lethbridge and Area. 

You are lucky you don’t live in Lethbridge which is $20.30 or Calgary living wage currently sits at $22.40/hr which jumped from $18.60/hr in 2021, and in Edmonton living wage which now sits at $21.40/hr which is a jump from $18.10/hr in 2021. Canmore is over double the minimum wage at $32.75/hr.

See how fortunate for those who live in Medicine Hat, right?

Just think, if you make a few bucks above minimum wage, you have no worries, at all. Cost of living including food, shelter and energy costs to make your vehicles and home is apparently manageable.

After admittedly not being perfect with their 2021 study they said “Since the release of the 2021 numbers we received feedback that using this household type did not reflect the lived reality of a vast number of Albertans. We’ve expanded the methodology to include lone parent and single individual households to reflect multiple situations where people may have access to different government benefits and would be affected differently by policy changes (e.g., improving child care affordability will affect each household type differently)…Over the last year, the Network has adjusted its calculations to better reflect the lived reality of Albertans. The 2022 are based on the income needs of three household types: 1) a two-parent family with 2 young children, 2) a lone-parent family with one child and 3) a single individual living alone. The calculation considers the hourly rate of pay needed for a household to maintain a modest standard of living, once government transfers have been added and taxes have been subtracted. It assumes that each adult is working full-time hours and includes more than the basics of food, clothing and shelter – it also takes into account unexpected costs, small investments in education, child care, and participating in the community.”

Whew, that’s a relief they got it fixed. (Sarcasm off).

They came up with “a standard methodology for calculating living wages across the province and worked with Puzzle Rock Coding to calculate them”. Interestingly enough the contact is someone with a PhD from Canmore.

The problem is is that it all masks the deeper problem and lays blame on those living. If you can’t manage, it’s the person’s fault. 

The problem is a complication mathematic formula doesn’t equate to real life for the ever-disappearing middle class, the blue collar crowd and the under-employed and the homeless. Medications and treatments for physical, physiological and mental issues, which may in turn keep you from having employment. A lot of employers are going to lowest wage possible and perhaps only allowing people to work part time so they don’t have to pay benefits, thus keeping their own insurance premiums down. Maybe there is no solid industry which people can work comfortably. Maybe you have five children working as a single parent (not the two that is stated in the formula). I knew a mom in Vauxhall years ago who had three or four part time jobs at one time. 

While it has been trending down, divorce rates in Alberta is above the national average. Anyone who has gone through that knows how costly in so many ways that can be.

How about housing? They their based on Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Housing Market Information Portal, which assumes a 3-bedroom rental apartment or townhouse for the family of four, a 2-bedroom unit for the lone parent family, and a 1-bedroom for the single individual.

Child care? Facepalm. 

It doesn’t match with the Living Wage Formula. See for yourself:

The grocery list looks like this: milk, partly skimmed, 2%; red lentils, dried; salmon, pink, canned; carrots, fresh, whole; pasta, whole wheat and vegetable oil, canola.

Based on Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Housing Market Information Portal , which assumes a 3-bedroom rental apartment or townhouse for the family of four, a 2-bedroom unit for the lone parent family, and a 1-bedroom for the single individual.

Who knows the motivation of this group for releasing this kind of motivation. Alberta Living Wage Network is funded by Calgary Foundation and Edmonton Community Foundation. Check out who is on the board, with some of their current employers, let’s say they are not eating SPAM or no name mac and cheese.

While politicians are playing political red rover speaking about who has jurisdiction or autonomy from whoever

“Albertans are experiencing the worst cost of living crisis in 40 years,” said NDP Critic for Labour and Immigration Christina Gray. “We have been hearing from families for years how cost pressures are making it difficult to afford all their bills at the end of the month. The costs piled on to Albertans by the UCP are directly contributing to the increased cost of living.”

For three consecutive days last, a homeless man has parked himself at the front of the daily newspaper’s doors prior to business hours. All he has is a sleeping bag and no shoes. The homeless often look for shelter near Lethbridge’s daily too. 

I guess we should give them $20 and see how they would do for an hour huh? 

Ryan Dahlman is the managing editor of the Prairie Post East, Prairie Post West and the 40-Mile Commentator/Cypress Courier

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