In a study released by Public Interest Alberta, stats show more than one in five workers in the city of Lethbridge make less than $15 an hour.
“The number of low wage workers among the employed people in Lethbridge is actually higher than the provincial average,” Executive Director of PIA Joel French said.
The study shows that over 350,000 workers, making up 18.6 per cent of employed Albertans, earn $15 per hour or less. That percentage rises to 21.9 per cent in Lethbridge, or 12,900 workers, the highest in the province.
The study also explains that 57 per cent of low wage earners in Lethbridge are women, something very concerning for MLA Lethbridge East Maria Fitzpatrick.
“They are women who are supporting families, there’s not anybody else helping them. They are on their own and they are making minimum wage or less,” Fitzpatrick said.
“As a community I think we should be ashamed of ourselves because if you really talk about a community, a community supports the community and that means you support everybody in it.”
The data reveals more than three-quarters of low wage workers are 20 years of age or older. The highest percentage, at 32.6 per cent, is people between the ages of 25 to 44 years old.
“It really dispels the myth that most of these workers are teenagers living out of their parents’ basements and just need a little extra spending money,” French said. “The numbers show that most of these workers are adults, many of whom are getting ready for families or are already supporting families.”
The NDP has committed to increasing the minimum wage each October until 2018, when it reaches $15 an hour. The next bump happens next month, from $11.20 an hour, up to $12.20.