The majority of Calgarians are worried about poverty and affordability in the city, according to a recent report published by the Calgary Foundation on Tuesday.
The foundation’s 2022 Quality of Life Report showed how surveyed Calgarians felt about their quality of life, from their sense of belonging to their views on affordability, safety and future plans for living in the city.
Around 79 per cent of Calgarians surveyed are concerned about the levels of poverty in Calgary, sparked by the rising cost of living and high inflation.
Many of those surveyed are struggling to find work: 55 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds had their hours reduced or lost their jobs permanently or temporarily this year, an increase from 51 per cent in 2021.
Approximately 19 per cent of those surveyed said they cannot meet their basic financial needs, while 85 per cent of those surveyed believe everyone is entitled to a living wage ($18.60 an hour). The current minimum wage is $15 an hour.
Those aged 44 to 54 are worried if they are able to retire.
“I think we’re really seeing the weight of the last few years. People are starting to feel stretched. Calgarians in that 18 to 24-year-old demographic are extremely stressed financially,” said Taylor Barrie, the Calgary Foundation’s vice president of communications.
“It’s a universal problem. It’s not just a Calgary challenge.”
Akash Vohra, a full-time Uber driver, said the rising costs of bills and groceries have put a strain on his finances.
He said his monthly grocery bills have jumped almost 50 per cent in recent months. Currently, he is spending more than $400 per month on groceries.
However, Vohra’s income has been reduced significantly after Uber deactivated his account after someone bumped into his car. He said he is trying to get his account reactivated after he got his car fixed, but it’s been an uphill battle.
“I’m going to work harder. I’m going to work 65 hours instead of 50 to catch up on my expenses because I also have to pay rent and take care of my car and car insurance. Everything’s gone up,” Vohra told Global News.
The report also noted that many Calgarians feel less safe in their neighbourhoods than they used to. Around 51 per cent of those surveyed are concerned about safety in their neighbourhood, an increase from 45 per cent in 2021.
Those concerns increase as they age, the report said.
But Barrie noted that the majority of Calgarians still say their quality of life is relatively high. Around 80 per cent of those surveyed reported a healthy sense of belonging, which has been constant since 2021.
“Overall, people have a strong sense of belonging… Even though Calgarians are quite stretched and stressed, they still rank their quality of life as high,” Barrie said.
“I think at the end of the day, what really matters is that we will be able to ride out this wave and come out on the other side.”
Larry Sorochan, a Calgary resident, said he is “pretty happy” about his quality of life in the city. He said he can afford most of his basic needs, even if he has to sacrifice a bit of his social life to do so.
“I’m managing pretty well. It’s not too bad, but my social life is shot,” he said.
“I feel really safe in the city. I know a lot of people who say they don’t, but I’ve ventured out after dark and I’ve never had any problems… You certainly hear a lot about (crime).”