EDMONTON—New statistics being presented today to the Alberta Government committee reviewing the minimum wage policy reveal that the province has 223,600 people (13.7% of all employed Albertans) earning less than $12 per hour and 112,200 earning less than $10 per hour.
"Someone who is working full-time should be able to earn enough to have a safe and healthy living, but it is clear from these statistics that far too many Albertans are not making a living wage," said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. "The government should follow the lead of other provinces by increasing the minimum wage and then re-establish annual increases because low wage economies have long-term impacts that will actually cost all of us more in the long run."
The statistics reveal that 58% of people earning less than $10/ hour are women over 20 years of age (17% are older than 45) and women make up 62% of low-income earners.
"As social workers we know first-hand of the struggles of Albertans living in poverty," said Lori Sigurdson, Professional Affairs Coordinator with the Alberta College of Social Workers. "We see how families, particularly single parent families, are devastated by the stress of never having enough which is correlated with difficulties such as higher rates of family violence, health problems, and lower school success rates."
John Kolkman, Research Coordinator for the Edmonton Social Planning Council said, "During the years that there were annual increases to the minimum wage, there was no corresponding increase in the percentage of Alberta workers earning minimum wages. This suggests that both the annual increases were affordable for employers, and that lower wage workers earning just above the minimum wage received corresponding increases to keep them above."
"There is extensive evidence that shows higher wages are an important part of any strategy to stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty in our province," said Dan Meades, Executive Director of Vibrant Communities Calgary. "In one of Canada's most expensive cities, it is hard to imagine how 69,000 people can make ends meet earning less than $12 per hour."
Please go to the website to see the Alberta Low Wage Statistics - 2010 Fact Sheet for details about the number of low-wage workers in Alberta including total numbers for Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Wood Buffalo/Fort McMurray and the Grande Prairie/Peace River Region.