According to Statistics Canada, Alberta has the highest Consumer Price Index in the country, and remains the most expensive province in which to live. This expense should be reflected in higher wages for all workers in the province – including those who are on the minimum wage.
After decades of allowing inflation to undermine the existing minimum wage, Alberta’s government has shown leadership by taking steps towards implementing a minimum wage of $15 an hour – which is more reflective of the true cost of living and working in the province.
For a full-time worker, putting in 40 hours a week in one of Alberta’s big cities, a living wage is in excess of $17 an hour. A $15-an-hour minimum wage in Alberta would bring low-wage workers closer to a living wage, would reduce the strain on government assistance programs, and would provide more opportunity for low-wage workers to make long-term gains.
There is a considerable and growing body of evidence showing that the negative economic effects of minimum wage increases are negligible, while the impact of lower-income people having more money in their pockets is quite considerable. The evidence ranges from a classic 1990 study by researchers David Card and Alan Krueger; a 2010 examination of fast food restaurants; to the 2014 British Low Pay Commission, which concluded “minimum wages boost workers’ pay, but don’t harm employment.”
Current Profile of Minimum Wage Earners In Alberta
- In May 2015 there were 1,946,700 employees age 15 and over in Alberta.
- Alberta has the lowest percentage of minimum wage earners in the country (2.2%) compared with 7.6% across Canada.
- The average hourly wage in Alberta as of May 2015 was $29.24, the highest of all provinces.
- The number of minimum wage earners in Alberta has increased from 25,700 (April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014) to 38,600 (April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015).
- As of June 30, 2014, 383,900 (20.5%) of employed Albertans earned less than $15 per hour.
Of minimum wage earners in Alberta:
- 35.9% are between the ages of 15 and 19;
- 15.4% are between the ages of 20 to 24;
- 11.8% are over 55 years of age;
- 55.3% are employed part-time;
- 72.2% are permanent employees (not seasonal, temporary or casual);
- 53.4% were employed in the retail, accommodation, or food service industries;
- 55.6% have some high school or high school diplomas as their highest level of education; and
- 62% are female.