Examining what the new minimum wage means for Albertans
A harbinger of economic doom, or an opportunity to help the working poor and their children rise above the poverty line; changes to the minimum wage always spark debate.
Alberta will increase the rate to $15 an hour on Oct. 1, making it the highest minimum wage in the country. Ontario was set to do the same on Jan. 1, but the new Progressive Conservative government has postponed that increase. British Columbia is scheduled to go to $15.20 in 2021 but there is a wide disparity across the country.
The Calgary Chamber of Commerce said Alberta’s 47 per cent increase in 3 years is too much and it’s hurting a recovering economy- especially in the hospitality and retail sectors.
WATCH: Alberta’s minimum wage went up to $15 an hour on Monday, making it the highest across the country. Kendra Slugoski has more on how many Albertans will benefit from the raise.
“Businesses are saying [for] $15 an hour they want someone with skill,” said Zoe Addington, director of policy and government relations with the chamber. “Unfortunately, those impacts are real, we have heard from businesses, yes, they are laying people off, they are reducing hours and it is impacting often the people the policy is intended to help.”
Franco Savoia with Vibrant Communities Calgary said there is a misconception that most minimum wage earners are teenagers living at home. He said the majority of the 122,000 minimum wage workers in Alberta are adults trying to support their own children
“I understand their frustration but when you have a whole whack of people who are working full time and have to go to the food bank, some of them, because they don’t earn enough or they have to have a second job or go to their family … I just don’t think that’s the right business model in our kind of society,” he said.
Savoia said the new minimum wage increase is still far below the actual living wage, which was calculated at $17.70 an hour.
LISTEN: Jill Johnson, owner of the Atlantic Trap and Gill has been picking up serving shifts herself to offset the costs of the minimum wage increase. She joins Gord Gillies and Sue Deyell:
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