Stop the Squeeze: Rental Increases and the Affordability Crisis

Alberta has experienced the largest inflation increase in Canada over the past year. According to Statistics Canada, Alberta has seen inflation of 4.2% against a national average of 2.8%.

Calgary leads the country’s major cities with 5.1% inflation. Edmonton is in second place nationwide at 4.2%. 

One of the biggest drivers of inflation is the price of housing, which went up 6.5% overall in Alberta, including major increases in rent.

Several months ago, Alberta MLA Janis Irwin put forward a private member’s bill proposing a cap on rent increases.

Other provinces like BC, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and the Yukon have protections capping the rent increases in those jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, the average rental rate in Calgary alone has gone up 33% overall in the last five years, and asking rents for new leases have jumped by nearly 43% over the same period.

“We are bargaining more aggressively than ever for our members at workplaces large and small across the province,” said President Thomas Hesse. “Working families need wage increases that meet their needs and should not have to choose between putting food on the table or a roof over their heads.”

“While we are pushing employers to do the right thing, we know we also need politicians to weigh in on issues like skyrocketing rent that are impacting their constituents,” continued Hesse.

UFCW Local 401 is mounting a province-wide campaign to help our members Stop the Squeeze of the affordability crisis. Thousands of union members are joining together to push employers and politicians to do the right thing and make life more affordable for working Albertans.

“When we stand strong together and fight for our rights as workers, we can win major victories,” said Secretary Treasurer Richelle Stewart. “Our union has a long history of taking on difficult fights and winning.”

Last year, UFCW Local 401 successfully pushed Safeway to provide top-rated and overscale employees with the largest wage increase Safeway employees have seen in thirty years. And that’s just the beginning.

We’re preparing to push Cargill on issues of income security and much-needed union representation for the more than 400 workers at their Case Ready Plant in Calgary with strike action if necessary. We’ve called on Loblaws to implement a $3 per hour affordability crisis circuit breaker wage increase for all Superstore employees.

We are calling for the same kind of affordability crisis pay from all employers with whom our members have Collective Bargaining Agreements, including Olymel in Red Deer, Cargill High River, JBS and other workplaces of every size and description across the province. And we’re calling on them to extend that pay until the time comes to negotiate new agreements.

But your union is well aware that our members are feeling the crunch from multiple angles. Wage increases will only go so far if things like rent continue to skyrocket.

Visit our campaign page to tell politicians it’s time to Stop the Squeeze and pass rent protections that will make life more affordable for working Albertans.