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New report claims living wage for Lethbridge family of 4 is $15 an hour

Alberta Living Wage Network calculated that a Lethbridge family of 4 could cover their living needs if both parents were working full-time and making $15 an hour.

Earlier this month, Alberta Living Wage Network published their Alberta Living Wage Report for November 2021.

Here’s a list of the living wage for various municipalities mentioned in the report:

Canmore$37.40
Fort McMurray$27.35
Cochrane$22.60
Drumheller$19.70
Lethbridge$19.00
Calgary$18.60
Chestermere$18.60
Edmonton$18.10
Rocky Mountain House$18.05
Stony Plain$17.20
Red Deer$17.15
Strathcona County$16.80

When calculating the living wage, Alberta Living Wage Network takes into account the cost of various goods in the following 10 areas for a family of four:

  • Food
  • Clothing and footwear
  • Shelter
  • Transportation
  • Childcare
  • Healthcare
  • Tuition
  • Other school fees
  • Other household costs
  • Contingency fund

Here are the total expenses for each community:

Canmore$113,499
Fort McMurray$91,350
Cochrane$85,429
Drumheller$81,900
Calgary$81,052
Chestermere$81,017
Edmonton$80,058
Red Deer$79,659
Stony Plain$79,652
Strathcona County$79,002
Rocky Mountain House$76,019
Lethbridge$74,571

Then they add up all of the following benefits the family of four in these communities might receive from the federal and provincial governments:

  • GST Credit
  • Canada Child Benefit
  • CCB Young Child Supplement
  • Climate Action Incentive
  • Alberta Child Care Subsidy
  • Alberta Child and Family Benefit

And here’s how these benefits total up for each community:

Lethbridge$27,011
Rocky Mountain House$27,011
Strathcona County$23,561
Red Deer$23,341
Stony Plain$23,197
Edmonton$21,250
Calgary$20,795
Chestermere$20,795
Drumheller$18,832
Cochrane$14,882
Fort McMurray$8,854
Canmore$6,169

I find it interesting that Lethbridge and Rocky Mountain House both have the highest amounts of potential government benefits, especially given that in the previous table, they had the two lowest amounts for expenses.

Finally, Alberta Living Wage Network considers taxes and deductions when calculating the living wage.

Among the 10 expense categories, 3 of them accounted for the bulk of the expenses: childcare, food, and shelter. For example, ALWN calculated annual childcare expenses in Calgary to be $20,639, shelter to be $19,909, and food to be $14,285.

That’s 67.7% of all expenses.

Here’s how the various communities compare for expenses:

FoodShelterChildcareCombined% of total
expenses
Canmore$15,601$45,658$21,700$82,95973.1%
Fort McMurray$14,803$24,620$24,836$64,25970.3%
Cochrane$13,320$24,489$21,405$59,21469.3%
Edmonton$13,946$19,582$20,790$54,31867.8%
Strathcona County$13,946$20,516$19,044$53,50667.7%
Calgary$14,285$19,909$20,639$54,83367.7%
Chestermere$14,285$20,840$19,560$54,68567.5%
Red Deer$14,509$19,794$19,370$53,67367.4%
Stony Plain$13,946$21,731$17,915$53,59267.3%
Lethbridge$15,888$16,609$17,134$49,63166.6%
Rocky Mountain House$13,803$17,785$17,475$49,06364.5%
Drumheller$15,339$18,530$18,608$52,47764.1%

One thing that Alberta Living Wage Network pointed out is that a family of four living in Lethbridge and Rocky Mountain House could live on $15 an hour, but only if they could access all 6 of the benefits they listed and both parents were working full time.

However, a single person, according to the ALWN’s calculations, would qualify for just two of those government benefits: GST credit and the federal Climate Action Incentive. Even then, the amounts they’d qualify would be significantly less than what a family of four would receive.

They calculated a living wage for a single individual at $21.20 working in Lethbridge and $19.75 for that same individual working in Rocky Mountain House.

Then they figured out a weighted average of the two wages (single individual and a family of four) to determine the general living wage for the two communities: $19.00 for Lethbridge and $18.05 for Rocky Mountain House.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on municipal, provincial, and federal politics, specializing in investigative journalism and critical analysis from a leftist political lens. He also writes regular editorials on general politics and social issues.

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