Alberta premier defends plan to raise minimum wage

Rachel Notley speaks to the media in May of 2015.
Rachel Notley speaks to the media in May of 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

EDMONTON – The Alberta government is not wavering from its plan to raise the minimum wage despite an internal document that warns of the possibility of job losses.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is calling on the NDP to slow the plan after obtaining the Jobs ministry document through an access to information request

CFIB spokesman Richard Truscott says the memo tells a different story than the government has been saying.

He says the province has been maintaining that hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018 would create jobs, not kill them.

But Premier Rachel Notley says the group is cherry-picking parts of the memo.

She says the federation is ignoring other important elements.

“The document you’re referring to, if you read it fully, essentially says we don’t know exactly what the outcome would be if this goes ahead as previously planned in 2018, and there’s a possibility we could have job losses.” she says. “But it doesn’t say definitively nor is it relying on a planned state of action that we’ve actually committed to yet.”

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In fact, she says, the rest of the memo echoes previous statements from the NDP on the issue of minimum wage, and even says the recent hike to $11.20 an hour has rendered positive results already.

“The memo to which you’re referring to actually says that the steps that we’ve taken thus far at the very least has no negative impact,” she says, “and suggests that there is in fact research out there – as I have been saying all along – that suggests it might actually have a positive impact.”

Notley adds that if there are job losses, there is a plan to adjust the minimum wage roll-out.

“We’re going to to track what the implications have been as we moved forward,” she says. “We’re going to keep an eye on what’s happening in the economy overall, and to the level of job creation and job sustainability in Alberta and we’ll adjust accordingly.”

-with files from CHED

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