News | September 03, 2013

By Charles Lefebvre, Medicine Hat NewsThe Medicine Hat and District Labour Council celebrated workers in the community with its annual barbecue for the unemployed and underemployed in Riverside Veterans Memorial Park Monday afternoon.District president John Lahey, taking a break from helping serve people, said he expected numbers to be up from the average of 200-300 people the barbecue typically gets.“I think right now, a lot of places are facing challenges due to cutbacks,” he said. “Everyone says there’s labour shortages in Alberta, but I think for the middle class, people tend to be losing their jobs, and we’re seeing a higher rate of unemployment, lower wages in Medicine Hat. . . and a lot of people have a tough time making ends meet with what they make.”A recent study from Public Interest Alberta revealed that Medicine Hat has the highest percentage of low wage earners in the province, with one out of every three workers in the city making less than $15 per hour.“We’re definitely on the low end of the scale for Alberta,” said Lahey. “We still have a low minimum wage, in my opinion, and a lot of these people have a tough time making ends meet every month. The costs keep going up.”Lahey feels the barbecue helps increase awareness of people who are unemployed or underemployed.“It’s something we all need to be concerned about,” he said. “With the barbecue, it’s a great way for us to maybe get back to the community and support the people who may need the support.”

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