N.S. minimum wage to increase by $1 an hour to $12.55 on April 1

Click to play video: 'Minimum wage set to increase by $1 in Nova Scotia' Minimum wage set to increase by $1 in Nova Scotia
WATCH: As of April 1st, the wage will climb to $12.55 an hour, putting Nova Scotia in the top half of provinces for minimum wage. Alicia Draus reports – Jan 30, 2020

Nova Scotia’s minimum wage is about to see another increase.

The provincial government will be raising the minimum wage to $12.55 an hour on April 1, an increase of $1. The province says that’s the largest annual increase to Nova Scotia’s minimum wage since 2010.

Minister of Labour and Advanced Education Labi Kousoulis says the increase will result in almost $2,000 more a year for full time workers.

“I think that goes a long way in their budgeting process,” Kousoulis said. “For some individuals it won’t be enough, but that’s why government also has other programs in place to help those individuals.”

READ MORENova Scotia may no longer have the lowest minimum wage in Canada after increase on April 1

Nova Scotia’s minimum wage is currently $11.55, the fourth lowest in the country. Saskatchewan is the lowest at $11.32, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador at $11.40 then New Brunswick at $11.50.

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The highest minimum wage in the country is $15 an hour in Alberta. The $12.55 an hour rate will make Nova Scotia the fifth highest in all of Canada.

Premier Stephen McNeil says the increase of $1 an hour rather than the planned $.55 increase is the result of a “hot and vibrant” economy.

“We recognize there were people in our province who have not enjoyed the success of that economy as we feel they should,” McNeil said. “This is one step in that direction.”

Click to play video: 'Fight for $15 and Fairness protest held in Halifax' Fight for $15 and Fairness protest held in Halifax
Fight for $15 and Fairness protest held in Halifax – Oct 2, 2018

But Nova Scotia NDP Leader Gary Burrill says the $1 an hour increase doesn’t go far enough.

“We’re in a province that is the only one in Canada that has worsening child poverty, we have the lowest median incomes in the whole country,” said Burrill.

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“What we need in this situation, in my view, is not a minimum wage of 11 something, it’s not a minimum wage of 12 something, it’s a minimum wage of $15.”

Christine Saulnier with the Centre for Policy Alternatives agrees, saying government should instead be looking at ensuring a livable wage.

“When I think about the calculation of what a living wage is, which is $19 here for Halifax and $17.75 for Antigonish, we’re still far below something that would allow a minimum-wage employee to actually make ends meet and take some of the stress out of their lives,” Saulnier said.

Last year, the province saw the provincial base pay rise from $11 to $11.55. At the time, government said that rate would increase about 55 cents a year for the next three years.

The 2018 minimum wage rate of $11 an hour was the lowest in the country and close to Statistics Canada’s low income cut off threshold – a calculation based on the cost of food, shelter and clothing.

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The Nova Scotia government says it will also be eliminating the inexperienced minimum wage, where employers can pay an inexperienced rate when an employee has less than three months’ experience.

“The decision to remove the inexperienced minimum wage will bring Nova Scotia in line with all other provinces and territories across Canada,” the province stated in a news release Thursday.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia to hike minimum wage, still behind other provinces

In the province’s release, the province added that it will also be eliminating the partial hour rule, which requires employers to round up time worked for minimum wage earners. This means if an employee works for 15 to 30 minutes, the employee must be paid for a half hour. If an employee works for 31 to 60 minutes, the employee must be paid for a full hour.

The province says the decision will “help lessen the costs and the administrative burden associated with the provision and reduce the overall regulatory burden.”

—With files from Global News’ Jeremy Keefe and Alicia Draus.

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