Red Deer’s Living Wage has risen over the past two years

New report released by the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance

  • Nov. 9, 2016 5:35 p.m.

The Living Wage in Red Deer has risen by an average of $0.71 per hour since 2014, according to a new report released by the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance (CAPRA) last week.

During a community discussion at the Pidherney Centre last Thursday, CAPRA released a report detailing the Updated Living Wage in the City for 2016. According to the report, the new living wage for a couple with two children is $13.86 per parent per hour, $14.10 for a single parent with one child and $13.68 for a single adult.

When compared to the report from 2014, the living wage calculation for families of four and single adults rose from $13.11 per parent per hour and $11.59 per hour respectively. Meanwhile, the Living Wage rate decreased from $14.75 for the lone parent family, largely due to increased government support from the Canada Child Benefit and Family Employment Tax Credit.

“The calculation is based on a set of expenses that we figured out as being a reasonable standard of living while also being conservative,” explained Harrison Blizzard, a member of CAPRA’s Living Wage Action Committee, which compiled the report.

Blizzard explained the calculation takes into account things like shelter, food costs, transportation and other household expenses but excludes things such as special dietary needs, RRSP contributions, hobbies and other expenses unique to each individual.

During the meeting, community members from various areas and sectors had a chance to discuss various benefits and barriers to providing a Living Wage for employees, especially in Alberta’s current economic climate.

“We just wanted to get an idea in their area of work or who they’re affected by or who they employ what type of things would be a benefit of having a Living Wage and what would be a challenge of implementing a Living Wage in their place of work,” Blizzard explained, adding the CAPRA Financial Literacy Committee will be compiling notes from the discussions to identify key themes and explore their next steps.

One of the challenges noted by employers at the event was the budgeting problems that would come with what amounts to providing a wage increase for employees, and discussed a number of possible solutions to that problem.

“Some of the things that were brought up were really interesting. Like instead of having just the wage per hour, what other benefits could you give your employee to help them subsidize some of the costs they have?” Blizzard said.

The report stresses that a Living Wage can have many benefits both outside and inside the workplace, including a better quality of life for employees, fewer individuals living in poverty, increased spending in the local economy, improved productivity, decreased employee turnover and improved customer loyalty.

“We really highlight that there’s more to a Living Wage than that dollar number,” Blizzard said.

The full 2016 Living Wage Update can be found on CAPRA’s web site at www.capovertyreduction.com.

zcormier@reddeerexpress.com

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