This week, The Current from CBC is highlighting the stories of several Canadians struggling to survive on minimum wage. Today’s episode focused on Acsana Fernando, a refuge from Bangladesh who is now living in Toronto.
The Current reports Acsana makes $10.25 an hour, which is the minimum wage in Ontario. Her usual monthly pay after taxes is between $1,100 and $1,300. The money disappears fast – $850 a month goes toward rent on a subsidized apartment she shares with her father and brother, who can’t work because of health conditions.
Acsana moved to Canada in 2012 after fleeing an arranged marriage to an abusive man who already had three wives. She thought Canada would bring security and dignity. Instead, she spends hours on public transit, sleeps an average of 4 hours, works all night, goes to school during the day and often waits in line for hours at the food bank to feed herself and her family. Check out The Current for Acsana’s full story.
Many women who come to the YWCA of Calgary share a similar reality to Acsana – they live below the poverty line and struggle to support themselves and their families.
Forty-five per cent of the women we serve have incomes of less than $999/month before tax. Nearly 20 per cent have no income at all when they come to us.
CBC highlights the fact that over 60 per cent of minimum wage earners in Canada are women. Alberta currently has the lowest minimum wage in the whole country. Coupled with lack of affordable housing, women in Alberta struggle to afford basic necessities and come to our doors looking for a safe place to stay.
With the length of stay in both the YWCA Sheriff King Home shelter for women fleeing family violence and YWCA Mary Dover House (for women experiencing poverty and homelessness) stretching ever longer, it’s clear we need to provide a living wage in Canada.