Small business owner Judi Dormaar is paying close attention in her two local stores as the minimum wage creeps closer to 15 dollars an hour.
“I believe people deserve that, but as a small business owner, how do I absorb that?” Dormaar said. “I think I’m going to have to make some changes. You know, I’ll have to put in some hours myself, even though I already work a lot of hours, but I’ll make changes where I’ll probably have to cut some staff hours.”
The Government of Alberta is moving full steam ahead on its plan to raise the minimum wage. There is an increase in the amount every October until it maxes out at 15 dollars an hour in 2018. The raise is hoping to address the issue that more than 300,000 Albertan’s make less than that.
President of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce, Harry Gross, said there are other solutions that should be addressed before the wages go up.
“Approximately 60 per cent of the people at minimum wage are women, how do we solve that issue?” Gross said. “If it’s truly a training issue or an education issue then lets spend time focusing on that. If it’s an apprenticeship issue then again, lets focus on solving the issues.”
Dormaar said without sound financial planning, some local businesses could be closing their doors.
“A store can’t stay open if you’re just paying the rent and paying wages of people. You have to make more than that to sustain your own living,” she said. “I expect there are going to be some changes, or people will start and won’t last as long as they used to.”
While the onus is on the business owner to adjust to the new realities, there are ways the average consumer can help.
“I think more than ever, it’s going to be important to support your local businesses,” Dormaar said.
Until then, she said all you can do is stay positive, and plan ahead.