Poverty is not only a condition faced by the unemployed. For many, low wages are the issue, especially for those making minimum wage.

$9.95 per hour is Alberta’s minimum wage (as of fall 2013), but it takes earning as much as $15 per hour to ensure you have the basic essentials for living.

The dramatic rise in food and housing costs over the past decade are five and seven times higher, respectively, than the increase in the overall median income for the Edmonton workforce.

For those who rely on income security programs, there is some relief. But considering how much the cost of living has increased over the years, this support can be spread very thin. For example, a single working mother with two children receives only $691 per month, while an individual receiving support from Alberta’s Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) receives just $1,588 per month – roughly equivalent to a full-time job at minimum wage.