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Mixed reviews for youth minimum wage cut in Lethbridge

Mixed reviews for Alberta’s youth minimum wage cut
WATCH ABOVE: The Alberta government introduced a new bill on Monday that would cut the minimum wage for some young workers by $2 an hour. Premier Kenney said he hopes that will encourage businesses to hire workers under 18, but it's a concern for post-secondary students looking for summer jobs. Jasmine Bala reports.

Some post-secondary students in Alberta say they are concerned about the government’s plan to lower the minimum wage for young workers between the ages of 13 to 17.

The United Conservative government’s proposed bill, if passed, will reduce minimum wage for youth to $13 an hour from $15 an hour. The cut is supposed to give youth increased employment opportunities by giving them an edge over other potential candidates.

READ MORE: Alberta introduces labour bill to change overtime pay, reduce youth minimum wage

“It will create a competitive advantage for a high school student over perhaps their university counterpart,” said Trevor Lewington, CEO of Economic Development Lethbridge.

“They now can be offered a more competitive wage, which perhaps is an incentive for employers to go that direction.”

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This is concerning for some post-secondary students who fall just outside of that age range, like University of Lethbridge student Kyle Angerili.

Angerili just landed a part-time summer job after three weeks of hunting and applying to 15 jobs. He said he’s worried the process of getting a summer job may become even more difficult if the bill passes.

READ MORE: Kenney would cut youth minimum wage to spur job creation

“I think [the bill] will definitely make it more competitive, especially for companies looking to decrease their payroll,” Angerili said.

“Making it more competitive definitely worries me for paying rent, food and other amenities that I need.”

But Lewington said the bill doesn’t necessarily mean university students will be out of summer jobs.

“At the end of the day, there’s way more opportunity than there are people in the labour force right now,” he explained. “Employers are asking for more and more workers and are having difficulty finding skilled labour. So the work is out there, we just need to try [to] connect the right people to the right job.”
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The bill also proposes changes to overtime, holiday pay and votes for union certification. If it passes, cuts to youth minimum wage would take effect on June 26.