This summer, Alberta Finance Minister Iris Evans confirmed that the Government of Alberta is facing a deficit of $6.9 billion due to a drop in natural gas prices. However, the Minister didn't illustrate how Alberta's labour force has been affected by the recession. The picture isn't pretty. According to current Statistics Canada data purchased by Vibrant Communities Calgary, the recession is having a significant impact on the structure of employment in Alberta. One of the many changes is the significant job losses among male workers.
Last December, for the first time in three years, Statistics Canada reported an increase in the number of Calgarians failing to earn a living wage. The study found that since 2008, 7,300 more women and 600 more men are low-wage earners. Women now make up almost two-thirds of the 65,000 low-wage earners in Calgary and 65 per cent of these female low-wage earners are over 20 years of age. But women’s low wages should not be understood as a 'woman’s issue,' but rather as something that negatively affects us all.
During the last two decades of the 20th century, worker productivity doubled. Meanwhile people have seen their real wages stagnate or decline in real terms since the mid-70s. A Canada-wide study, The Rich and the Rest of Us: The Changing Face of Canada's Growing Gap, examined Canadian incomes over the past three decades. It found that everyone except the upper 10 per cent of the population has been working longer hours while most of the economic gains have gone to this top group. The lowest half of the population showed a drop in their share of total income.
Parkland had an incredibly productive spring and is looking forward to a busy fall. The very popular Taming the Tempest report which was released in March was quickly followed up by the equally popular report, the Spoils of the Boom: Incomes, profits, and poverty in Alberta. Polls showing that the majority of Albertans feel that they themselves are not benefiting from the boom led the Parkland to join forces with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and undertake research on the phenomenon.