I am sure that many people have seen this proposed budget that McDonald’s and Visa put together to prove that it was possible to live on minimum wage. However, it turns out that it is almost impossible to live on a minimum wage. Robyn Pennachia reported that the budget shown is from “Illinois where minimum wage is $8.25” and it is based on someone who is working for 62 hours a week “almost a whole other full time job.” You may, or may not, be surprised that of most families living in poverty, the parents or guardians are working at least one full time job. The minimum wage in Alberta sits at $9.95 for employees who do not serve liquor as part of their regular job (Alberta Human Resources 2013). Though it is higher than Illinois it remains very low and acts as a barrier to breaking out of the vicious cycle of poverty.
The proposed budget “assumes the worker is working two jobs and fails to note the charges for child care, clothing, groceries and gas.” (Laura 2013) And now imagine trying to get around Edmonton in the winter without a vehicle; it would be quite difficult. Even if a person wants to use public transit, an Edmonton Transit adult monthly pass is $89, a post secondary student pass is $81, and a youth monthly pass is $65.55. A family of four people with 2 school-aged children would be spending $309 on bus passes alone! On top of this they need to heat their home in increasingly colder weather, buy clothes (especially warm coats, boots, mitts, etc.) and purchase groceries. The cost of a nutritious food basket (the quantity of approximately 60 foods that represents a nutritious diet) for a family of four in metro Edmonton is $210 per week (Edmonton Vital Signs 2013). That adds up to $840 per month – more than the monthly spending allotted from this budget.
No wonder families living in poverty have such a hard time acquiring nutritious food, getting from place to place and surmounting the challenges of every day life. Realizing that this huge barrier, a low minimum wage, is detrimental to the well-being of children, it is time to take action. Advocating for a higher minimum wage may seem an insurmountable task but do not despair. Taking any action whether donating good, healthy food to the Food Bank or a GEOMEER Helping Hamper or finding organizations that you can volunteer with that help to diminish the demands on the bank accounts of families living in poverty will help.
GEOMEER’s Helping Hampers campaign is meant to cover the expenses associated with food, clothes and other necessities during a long-term period. Through Helping Hampers, we know that we can give families hope that there is a way out while connecting high school students with their communities. To top it off, students, staff and families of the students learn how much poverty exists within our own city, and trust me, it is much higher than most think.
We are coming up on Thanksgiving right away and I challenge every reader to do at least one thing this month, and every month of the year, that gives another person reason to give thanks for your efforts. It could be helping someone who looks like they have their hands too full, volunteering with an organization or even donating to an organization that is working for the betterment of others.
From us at GEOMEER we hope that you have a great beginning to your fall season and we thank you for all of your support in making us what we are today.
Pennacchia, Robyn. “McDonald’s suggested budget for employees shows just how impossible it is to get by on minimum wage.” Death and Taxes Mag. July 2013
Shin, Laura. “Why McDonald’s Employee Budget Has Everyone Up In Arms.” Forbes Online. July 2013
Edmonton Community Foundation. Edmonton Vital Signs Food Report 2013. Print.
Edmonton Transit Fares: Edmonton Transit Online