Some Alberta businesses vow to keep paying all workers $15/hr

LISTEN ABOVE: Northern Chicken co-owner Andrew Cowan in Edmonton and Red Bison Brewery owner/founder Steve Carlton in Calgary on the Ryan Jespersen Show.

While the minimum wage for liquor servers and minors is set to be rolled back to $13 an hour this summer, a few Alberta businesses are vowing not to cut their workers’ pay — and they’re making their pledge public at

One of the first to sign up was Red Bison Brewery in Calgary. Co-owner Steve Carlton told The Ryan Jespersen Show on 630 CHED that when he started his business, he decided to pay his workers $15 an hour even before the wage hike.

Over the four years Rachel Notley’s NDP government was in power, it gradually increased the minimum wage to $15 an hour — the highest in Canada — from $10.20 hourly.

“I think that was kind of the way to go, so we didn’t get the shock later on.” said Carlton.

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Edmonton restaurant Northern Chicken also signed the pledge. Co-owner Andrew Cowan admitted when the base wage went up, it did mean an adjustment for his business on 124 Street.

“Everybody — front and back of house for us, cooks, servers — all get paid the same wage and they all split tips across the board.

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“The idea was that everybody made the same amount of money, we all worked hard to get to the same point in time and nobody deserved more or less than the other person,” Cowan said.

“So we kind of designed our business this way, which the minimum wage wasn’t going to be as big a factor for us at the end. We hope at least.”

Cowan said while he doesn’t have any underage employees, he used to.

“A gentleman who actually works for us — he started when he was under 18 and now he’s over 18,” he said.

“I don’t think that would have changed our minds, regardless. Even if we had three, four, six guys under the age of 18 — we still would have been $15 or more.”

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Besides Northern Chicken and Red Bison, other businesses that had signed up as of 1 p.m. Wednesday include Earth’s General Store, Variant Edition Comics + Culture, and West Grow Farms, and Meuwly’s.

But Carlton said he believes they’re just the start.

“I would actually expect more breweries to be signing up,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a whole lot that would just roll back wages because they can.”

He thinks it’s the larger businesses who’ll be taking advantage of this rollback.

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“I think you see that the huge corporations here that have, you know, hundreds or thousands of employees.” said Carlson.

“They lobbied for this for a long time, and they’re already making hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in profits. I don’t know why they can’t share all that revenue.”

The UCP introduced Bill 2 on Tuesday, which included several changes to Alberta labour laws. It takes effect June 26.

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Albertans react to UCP bill aimed at changing province’s labour laws

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