Everyone needs the means to provide for themselves and their families

Written by Lorne Dach, MLA for Edmonton-McClung.

Before I was elected I worked as a real estate agent for many years. I also volunteered with the City of Edmonton Non-Profit Housing Corporation. So I spent a lot of time talking with people from all walks of life, and from every wage bracket and profession. The one thing that everybody has in common is the need for a home, and the need to provide for themselves and for their families. 

Another thing I’ve seen in the more than 30 years that I’ve spent in the real estate industry is the sharp increase in house and condo prices. It used to be when I started that people working in low-income jobs had at least a slim chance of getting into a starter home. That isn’t the case anymore. When the average house price is up over $400,000, there is no way now that anyone earning minimum wage can hope to afford even the weekly mortgage payment, much less the down payment and the other expenses associated with living in a house.  

It will give working Albertans who make minimum wage a hand up as they struggle to support their families.

We also suffer from an ongoing lack of affordable housing. This is something that our government is working to correct, but it will be years before the investments we’re making now come to the market. In the meantime we have a whole segment of our population, some of them the most vulnerable and the most in need of support, who are forever stuck in a situation where they will never be able to own their own home. This in turn makes it more difficult for them to build equity that they could transfer to their children which makes it more difficult in turn for their children to own property. It’s a recurring issue with no end in sight. 

I don’t think for a minute that increasing the minimum wage will, by itself, fix the housing situation faced by low-income Albertans. There are many other things at play was well. But it will help their lives. It will give working Albertans who make minimum wage a hand up as they struggle to support their families. If they are prudent it will allow them to put some money away in savings for retirement, and it will allow them to support their children’s education as they improve their chances of making a decent living. As someone who was born and raised here, I’ve seen the disparity in incomes increase over time. I am firmly behind the government’s small move to correct that.