by Morinville News Staff
The United Conservative Party are criticizing Monday’s $1.40 hike in minimum wage, a provincial move that brings Alberta’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, the highest in the country.
The UCP argue that the increase was too quick and lacked consideration of the economic effects.
“The NDP government failed to take the impact on workers into consideration,” said UCP Economic Development and Jobs critic Richard Gotfried, MLA for Calgary-Fish Creek. “A minimum wage hike does not help workers if one’s job is destroyed as a consequence of that hike. Raising labour costs for small businesses at a time when many are still struggling to attract customers in a frail economy, on top of other rising costs, makes it harder for both workers and small businesses to get ahead.”
The UCP cite Restaurants Canada information released Oct. 1 that show a 5.1 per cent decrease in the average hours worked between 2015 and 2018 for Alberta foodservice workers. The same information shows a 13,300 employee drop in the foodservice and accommodation sector and a 10 per cent decrease in the number of employees per restaurant.
UCP Labour Critic Grant Hunter said the NDP government pushed the labour changes through without consideration for how workers would be impacted or without a proper economic impact assessment.
“A nearly 50 per cent hike in just three years has been proven hard for employers to absorb, and workers pay the price in the end,” Hunter said “We remain particularly concerned for young Albertans looking to join the labour market and other vulnerable Albertans.”
The Government of Alberta says more than a quarter million Albertans, 11 per cent of all workers, earn less than $15 per hour. Of that quarter million, 24 per cent are students. Another 40 per cent are aged 20 to 34, and 12 per cent are 55 and older. Sixty-three per cent are women and 53 per cent work full time.
Youth unemployment in Alberta currently stands at nearly 12 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.
Monday’s increase raises the minimum wage by $1.40 an hour from $13.60 to $15 and raises the income of a minimum wage earner who works 40 hours per week by $2,912. The current increase brings Alberta’s minimum wage to the highest in the country.