September 1, 2014 8:13 pm

Public interest group says Alberta’s minimum wage increase isn’t enough

EDMONTON – Alberta’s minimum wage jumped by $0.25 on Labour Day, but a public interest group argues it’s not enough for many Albertans.

Public Interest Alberta estimates one in five employed Albertans is struggling to pay for basic needs.

“For people who are struggling day in day out, working very hard, often two, three part-time jobs – it’s not going to make a big difference at the end of the day,” said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Public Interest Alberta executive director.

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Read More: Alberta raises minimum wage

Sandra Der is among those finding it difficult to make ends meet.

Divorced with two teenage sons, she is also unemployed. A string of temporary jobs provided her with some income, but the long gaps between jobs have been difficult to deal with.

“It’s been a struggle. Some days are hard,” explained Der. “requiring food bank or government agencies is a reality.”

Read More: Alberta’s minimum wage is going up

Der was one of about 1,000 people at Monday’s Labour Day Barbeque in Edmonton for the unemployed and under-employed.

Nearly 384,000 employed Albertans earn less than $15 an hour, 77 per cent are over the age of 20 and 61 per cent are women.

“We need to know that there are some barriers that women face more than men. It has a lot to do with our culture, the way our economy is set up,” said Lori Sigurdson, Alberta College of Social Workers.

“There are some barriers that we need to address and alleviate.”

Before the $0.25 increase on Monday, Alberta’s previous minimum wage was $9.95 an hour, which was the lowest in the country.

The minimum wage for liquor servers has also increased, from $9.05 to $9.20 an hour.

Nunavut and Ontario have the highest minimum wage, at $11 an hour.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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