by Morinville News Staff
Alberta’s general minimum wage will increase by one dollar from $10.20 to $11.20 per hour effective Oct. 1. The liquor server minimum wage will rise by $1.50 from $9.20 to $10.70. The increases are the first of two steps to eliminate the differential rate altogether in 2016.
“Alberta’s minimum wage is currently the lowest in the country, yet we have one of the highest costs of living,” said Premier Rachel Notley in a release issued Monday morning. “We promised Albertans we would raise minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018, and we will stick to that promise. We’re taking a significant step towards our goal for 2015 and will continue this path in future years.”
In the same government release, Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour said the government had listened closely to Albertans and have taken their views and suggestions into account. “Our plan includes a $1 increase to the general minimum wage this year, plus a two-year phase-out of the liquor server rate,” she said. “We will continue to consult with stakeholders as we move forward on our goal over the next three years.”
It is a move Sue Tomney, Chief Executive Officer of the Calgary YWCA sees as a positive step forward. “The government’s work to increase [the] minimum wage to $15 by 2018 is a huge step forward in ensuring Alberta women are earning a wage that enables them to thrive and support their families,” Tomney said in Monday’s release. “We applaud this government’s commitment and hope this will lead other provinces to move towards a minimum wage that allows our country to thrive.”
But not everyone is thrilled with the idea. The opposition Wildrose accused the NDP government of pushing through a 50 per cent increase to the minimum wage without doing any economic analysis on how it will impact employment.
“There has been zero economic analysis of the impact of the dramatic increase to the minimum wage,” said Wildrose Leader Brian Jean in news release. “We need to put on the brakes, listen to chambers, small businesses and job creators to make sure we understand the full impact of this planned 50 per cent increase.”
The Wildrose say Monday’s announcement will put Alberta five cents per hour behind Ontario for the highest minimum wage among all provinces.
The opposition went on to say the Canadian Federation of Independent Business have estimated the policy could lead to 50,000 to 183,000 jobs lost or not created, and a 14 to 28 per cent increase in unemployment for youth.
“The NDP have good intentions, but this policy will only hurt the people it’s supposed to help the most,” said Wildrose Shadow Jobs Minister Grant Hunter in the same release. “We need a more moderate approach that works alongside our job creators, protects employment for youth and our most vulnerable, and creates more concrete poverty reduction actions instead of taking steps to hurt job growth.”