EDMONTON – The Alberta government is going ahead with its plan to increase the province’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The boost was a major plank in the NDP’s election platform during last year’s provincial election.
Labour Minister Christina Gray has announced that the present minimum wage of $11.20 will increase by $1 on Oct. 1, with an additional $1.40 in October of 2017 and another $1.40 in 2018.
She says the key is getting more money into the pockets of low-income Albertans.
“Albertans who work full time should be able to live with dignity, and that means being able to afford rent, food and transportation for their families,” she said.
“This plan for Alberta’s minimum wage provides long-term certainty to employers and workers.”
Gray dismisses concerns that the increases will lead to job losses from small businesses, as well as the restaurant and food industry.
She says most of the complaints are coming from “well-funded” lobby groups representing those industries.
“In my experience as a restaurant owner, higher wages for valuable employees garners longer staff retention, reduces training costs and consequently improves overall staff morale, which benefits customers and colleagues alike,” Brad Lazarenko, owner of Culina Restaurant, said.
“At Duchess Bake Shop we believe strongly in paying a living wage to our employees,” co-owner Garner Beggs added. “They work hard to help us build our vision and it is incumbent upon us as employers to ensure that our people are paid enough to support their families, pay their mortgages and rents and feed themselves. We have benefited greatly from paying higher than minimum wages through very high staff retention thereby saving on training, maintaining efficiencies and creating a workplace people want to be part of.”
With files from Emily Mertz, Global News