Minimum wage increase causing concern

  • Sep. 28, 2016 2:43 p.m.

On Oct. 1st, minimum wage will rise once again but certain community groups such as the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance (CAPRA) say this is not the solution to affordable living.

CAPRA has facilitated several discussions on a living wage versus a minimum wage as pieces of a complete plan to help reduce living expenses for families. As the next minimum wage hike is around the corner, Lori Jack of CAPRA and the Living Wage Action Committee expressed how she thought it might affect the community.

“I think the changes on Oct. 1st will cause concern and challenge for many, including those who work in the social service sector,” she said. “Many non-profit agencies haven’t seen increases in their budgeting contracts with the government, and that will place strain on them and everyone who uses those facilities. I think there will definitely be difficulties for social service organizations and non-profits.”

On the CAPRA web site, the organization has outlined several ideas that would help to create affordable living options including changes to public transit pricing, affordable housing and addressing food security needs. The Living Wage Action Committee was established a few years ago with the hopes of facilitating community conversation an development in opportunity towards more affordable living.

“We applaud the government for wanting to look at fair wages, but the minimum wage itself is not a sufficient means with which to look at the issue,” Jack said. “It is a tool for a solution, but is not a solution itself to the issue. We also appreciate the challenges that businesses face, especially in Central Alberta where we have a lot of small businesses and entrepreneurial businesses that would struggle to maintain the minimum wage. We’re looking at how that affects each individual business, not just in wage factors, but benefits and other things that are incorporated into offering a living wage.”

Jack said CAPRA has had many discussions with community members on the issue and has even consulted with the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce. She said there is no simple solution, but that the minimum wage could hurt local businesses.

On Nov. 3rd, CAPRA will be hosting a Living Wage discussion, ‘Creating Financial Pathways’, at Pidherney’s Curling Centre from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. The event is free and will help to generate ideas and facilitate dialogue of what can be done to make living in Central Alberta more affordable.

“It’s a constant challenge – there is no be-all-end-all solution, but there is always a discussion to be had about accessible financial pathways that make sense for our community. That event is going to also discuss payday lending and other micro-lending opportunities and challenges.”