Overcoming inequities in Calgary: COVID-19, gender, race and precarious employment


2020 was a challenging year that brought inequity in Calgary sharply into focus. COVID-19, the recession and the impact of increasing food prices disproportionately affected the city’s most vulnerable.

Vibrant Communities Calgary’s (VCC) 2020 Poverty Snapshot highlights a number of challenges, including that:

  • Calgary’s rate of income poverty has risen and fallen over the years, with no clear upwards or downwards trend since 2006;

  • poverty is more pronounced among single Calgarians;

  • Black, Indigenous and people of colour are overrepresented among those negatively impacted by COVID-19;

  • Calgarians on other forms of social assistance are making less than half of what is required to meet their basic needs; and

  • a growing gig economy and increasingly precarious employment negatively impact people experiencing poverty who are also employed.

One positive finding was that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit decreased stress levels among its recipients.

Calgary's poverty-reduction strategy

VCC is the steward of Enough for All, Calgary’s community-driven poverty reduction strategy. Targeting the root causes of poverty, the implementation of the strategy is in partnership with the community and jointly supported and funded by the City of Calgary, United Way of Calgary and Area and skills-development organization Momentum.

Calgary’s strategy is in place to raise awareness, to define and to reduce poverty in the city and to convene and connect the organizations, collaboratives and individuals working in various ways to reduce poverty throughout Calgary.


Nine policy recommendations

VCC recognizes that awareness of these inequities and the actions that follow have the power to direct the community towards the vision of Enough for All. The nine policy recommendations in the Poverty Snapshot call for less red tape, and align with the modern-day realities of parenthood, gig work, gender dynamics and systemic racism.

Recommendations include the following, among others:

  • Maintaining the provincial commitment to index AISH and Income Supports

  • Exploring a Basic Income Guarantee for Canada

  • Collecting more data on the gig economy

  • Bringing an equity framework to city planning and neighbourhood investment

See the full report and list of policy recommendations here.


Building an inclusive community

Calgary’s Enough for All strategy wants to ensure that Calgary is a strong, supportive and inclusive community, where everyone has sufficient income and assets to thrive, where all Indigenous people are equal participants in Calgary’s future.


"Poverty is complex, but Enough for All is a roadmap for changes that will benefit all Calgarians. I’m hopeful that we can re-evaluate our various approaches and collaborate in ways that lead to meaningful change and ultimately significantly reduce poverty in Calgary."

Meaghon Reid, VCC Executive Director


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