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Lower minimum wage for Alberta youth takes effect Wednesday

Lower youth minimum wage takes effect in Alberta
WATCH: Alberta employers can now pay students under the age of 18 $13/hr instead of $15/hr. Kent Morrison has more on the mixed reaction from youth and business owners.

The United Conservative government’s rollback to Alberta’s minimum wage for young people takes effect June 26.

The new $13-per-hour minimum wage applies to workers aged 13 to 17. The old $15 rate, the highest in Canada, remains in place for everyone else.

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

The Alberta government has said cutting the minimum wage for youth by $2 an hour would spur more hiring in that age group.

“We’re bringing back balance, cutting red tape and making it more affordable to hire teens for their first jobs,” Labour Minister Jason Copping said in a statement last month.

On the eve of the youth wage rollback, Opposition NDP labour critic Christina Gray pleaded with the government not to go through with it.

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“Don’t do this,” Gray said in a statement Tuesday. “There is nothing to suggest this will work and our young people will suffer.”

Watch below (June 6): Alberta politicians talked around the clock into the evening Thursday in a marathon debate over a bill that would cut the minimum wage for young people and change rules on calculating overtime pay. Tom Vernon reports.

Alberta legislators in marathon debate over workplace rules
Alberta legislators in marathon debate over workplace rules

Sixteen-year-old Haruun Ali is trying to save money for his university education and other expenses.

“I need $14,000 to live on campus and I’m not going to be able to get that now… With this new rule that’s coming into effect today, it’s going to make it harder for me to make that money,” he said.

“When you look at it — $13 to $15 — $2 isn’t that much, but when you add it up and you add up the hours, it is a really big difference.

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“That money that now I’m not making I could be adding to my university fund and I could get the money faster,” Ali told Global News.

He was happy when the former NDP government raised the minimum wage.

“I thought that was really good for people,” Ali said. “There are single mothers out there with one child and that child has to help their parent out… But now, single parents who have been relying on this paycheck from their youth, they’re going to be earning less now and some parents, they’re not going to be able to provide.

“It’s causing a problem that doesn’t need to exist.”

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

Several businesses have pledged to retain the higher $15/hr rate for workers no matter what their age.

The Calgary Stampede announced Wednesday it would stick with $15/hr for everyone this year, given the timing of the government’s changes.

Watch below (Sept. 30, 2016): Alberta’s minimum wage increases $1 to $12.20 an hour starting Saturday. Edmonton chef Paul Shufelt says the jump will be harmful to small businesses.

Edmonton chef argues minimum wage increase bad for business
Edmonton chef argues minimum wage increase bad for business

On Tuesday, Paul Shufelt will open Woodshed Burgers, his second restaurant in Edmonton. He was very outspoken against the previous government’s minimum wage hikes. But he says this rollback will do little to impact his bottom line.

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“Frankly, we may consider a youth down the road as a dishwasher or something like that, but one out of 30 employees making a couple dollars less an hour isn’t going to be a game-changer for us,” Shufelt said.

Though he does agree that the incentive to hire an eager student is there.

“I started in the industry as a dishwasher,” said Shufelt. “If it was $15 an hour to pay me then, I probably wouldn’t have got my foot in the door and I probably wouldn’t be employing 65 people now.”

Public Interest Alberta has launched an online petition against the minimum wage change, calling it discriminatory “against a group of workers who can’t express their opinion at the ballot box.”

Watch below (May 30): There’s a push to take a stand when it comes to the government reducing the minimum wage for some young workers in Alberta. Vinesh Pratap reports.

Edmontonian hopes consumers will take stand against Kenney’s wage cut for young workers
Edmontonian hopes consumers will take stand against Kenney’s wage cut for young workers

— With files from Kent Morrison, Global News

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