Working hard for poverty

Red Deer has the second highest rate of low-wage earners in Alberta’s seven major communities.

Red Deer has the second highest rate of low-wage earners in Alberta’s seven major communities.

In Red Deer, 27.2 per cent of the 47,000 people employed as of March 31 earned less than $15 an hour according to Statistics Canada.

Almost 69 per cent of them earned less than $13 an hour. Provincially, 23.8 per cent of workers, or one in four workers, earned less than $15 an hour and 16 per cent of them made less than $13.

The majority of low-wage earners in Red Deer were women at 59.4 per cent, close to the provincial average of 60.8 per cent.

The statistics released by Public Interest Alberta and the Alberta College of Social Workers looked at Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

Medicine Hat had the highest rate of low-wager earners at 33.7 per cent. Wood Buffalo had the lowest rate at 16.8 per cent.

PIA executive director Bill Moore-Kilgannon said not all of those earning less than $15 a hour are living in poverty if they happen to have a spouse who earns a lot more.

But the vast majority of low-wage earners — 78 per cent across the province — are in their prime earning years.

“Everybody talks about the average wage being very strong, but what people looking at policy tend not to do is look at what’s happening for folks who are at the bottom 10 or 20 per cent of wage earners,” Moore-Kilgannon said on Wednesday.

“It’s very important that we understand people living in poverty — many, many of them — are working very hard. They’re just working for poverty wages,” Moore-Kilgannon said.

During the provincial election, Premier Alison Redford promised a five-year strategy to eliminate child poverty and recently Minister of Human Services Dave Hancock launched public consultation on social policy framework.

“As they develop this new social policy framework, it’s so important that Albertans get involved, tell their stories, to make sure this isn’t just nice, political rhetoric that helped the premier get elected.

“What a great goal to eliminate child poverty, and if there’s any part of the world that can do that it’s here in Alberta.”

There are many reasons for poverty so eliminating it has to be a multi-pronged approach, for example, more funding for people to attend post-secondary and child care, Moore-Kilgannon said.

Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling said traditionally seniors were most likely living in poverty.

“We’re now looking at young families in poverty, typically that’s a single parent, mother-only family. The father is no where to be seen and is very often not providing the support mandated,” Flewwelling said.

There’s also the rapid growth and urbanization of the aboriginal population, he said.

“Those are two huge tsunamis that are coming at us that people don’t seem to have a grasp on. Sixty-five per cent of the aboriginal population is below 15 years of age,” Flewwelling said.

Red Deer is known for its work on affordable housing and the city can indirectly impact employment by making it a friendly place for business. But the disparity in income continues, he said.

“While there is a fairly wealthy and well-heeled population in Red Deer, there is a soft underbelly of people who have difficulties making ends meet.”

For more information on low-wage earners go to www.pialberta.org.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Cruel and sadistic: Central Alberta dog rescuers believe there are dog fighting rings in province

With the increased number of stolen dogs, some central Alberta rescuers are… Continue reading

Red Deer hospital expansion recognized in throne speech

Society for Hospital Expansion in Central Alberta calls for more details

UPDATED: “I want to be your premier again”: Rachel Notley

Premier Rachel Notley makes announcement on Tuesday morning

Mixed Nuts revue presented Saturday to kick off first Carole Forhan Theatrical Scholarship

Broadway songs, comedy skits are part of the Red Deer Players production

Documentary on Colten Boushie case to open Toronto’s Hot Docs festival

TORONTO — A film examining the case of a young Indigenous man… Continue reading

Want to help bees? Plant flowering herbs

Herbs are among the most useful plants in nature. They can tantalize… Continue reading

UN: Gene editing for human reproduction is ‘irresponsible’

GENEVA — A panel convened by the World Health Organization said it… Continue reading

Photos: Three moose spotted in Red Deer Tuesday

Three moose were spotted in Red Deer Tuesday morning. Red Deer resident… Continue reading

Andreescu rockets to No. 24 in WTA Tour rankings after Indian Wells title

Canada’s Bianca Andreescu has rocketed to No. 24 in the WTA Tour… Continue reading

Canadian figure skaters looking to reach new heights at world championships

Nam Nguyen, Alaine Chartrand and Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro all have… Continue reading

Man linked to largest art heist in history freed from prison

HARTFORD, Conn. — A reputed Connecticut mobster who federal authorities believe is… Continue reading

Florida Georgia Line, Glorious Sons headline concert series at Canadian Open

HAMILTON — Florida Georgia Line and the Glorious Sons will headline a… Continue reading

Most Read