For immediate release

CALGARY, June 30, 2016 – The YWCA of Calgary (YWCA) applauds the provincial government’s progress to move more Albertans out of poverty and improve economic conditions for women and their families. With the announced implementation plan for increases to minimum wage, our community is one step closer to ending the cycle of poverty and the YWCA is proud to support this decisive move. Today marks the next steps toward creating an environment where women and their families can thrive, and the community as a whole can benefit.

“Low income traps women in circumstances that are unsafe and in which they have few options. As a large employer and an organization committed to supporting women who are vulnerable, we support the $15 by 2018 commitment,” says Sue Tomney, Chief Executive Officer of the YWCA. “It reflects our belief that an adequate income is critical for women to live with dignity and maintain their wellbeing.”

Women make up more than 60 per cent of minimum wage earners. Of minimum wage earners, more than 15 per cent are single parent households, headed by women who are trying to survive in a city where the living wage is $18.15 per hour according to a recent report from Vibrant Communities Calgary. The living wage is a higher test for communities; it reflects what earners in a family need to bring home based on the actual costs of living.

Of key importance in the implementation plan for increases minimum wage is the elimination of two-tiered liquor server differential. The YWCA is grateful to see the end of this discriminatory system. Women account for over 62 per cent of the accommodation and food services industry from 2015 data. Liquor servers are routinely encouraged to use charm and charisma to increase the amount of money customers will spend at the establishment, or leave in tips.

In our community, the faces of poverty are women’s faces and when women live in poverty so do their children. The YWCA recognizes that women are at a higher risk of poverty throughout their lifetime. Wages that bring women and their families out of poverty is critical to ensuring women have the greatest opportunities for self-determination. The increase in minimum wage supports the YWCA’s vision of women thriving in a safe and equitable community. The steps the provincial government is taking are the first movements toward creating an environment where women feel safe, supported and can thrive.

The YWCA recognizes that minimum wage disproportionately affects women, families and single parent households.  As a living wage leader since 2011, no YWCA employee earns less than the proposed $15 minimum wage and, while this can be challenging in an environment of flat funding contracts and donations, the YWCA stands by its responsibility to support our staff. The YWCA commends the Alberta government’s actions in raising the minimum wage and hope other provinces will work towards a minimum wage that allows Canada to thrive.


About the YWCA of Calgary:

The YWCA is the largest and longest serving women’s organizations in Calgary. Through its 105 year history, the organization has touched hundreds of thousands of lives and evolved its programs to meet the changing needs of women. In 2015, the YWCA offers support to more than 6,700 individuals through programs that create a continuum of service for women and families who are struggling with poverty, homelessness, domestic abuse and isolation.

For information and interview inquiries please contact:

Elsbeth Mehrer

Vice President, Engagement & People

YWCA of Calgary

Phone:  403.809.4168 l Email:



YWCA of Calgary

Phone: 403.262.0498 | 587.952.1367 | Email: