Due to record levels of inflation, the living wage rates in New Brunswick have seen the most substantial increases on record.
Released by the Human Development Council earlier this week, a new report states a living wage reflects the amount a household must earn to cover basic needs and live with dignity.
“What we found in the last year is that the living wage rates we’ve calculated have increased more than ever before, and I don’t think it would come as a surprise that it’s inflation-driven,” said Randy Hatfield, the executive director for the council.
The living wages calculated are as follows:
- Fredericton: $23.45
- Saint John: $21.60
- Moncton: $20.85
- Bathurst: $19.20
Moncton’s 11.8 per cent or $2.20 increase is the largest year-over-year spike of the four cities.
“The cost of living, particularly the costs of shelter, food, and transportation, has climbed sharply,” the report states.
“Without an increase in income supports and programs for working families, the living wage will increase as the cost of living rises.”
Rates are calculated using the Canadian Living Framework, which uses a reference family of four, with two working adults and two young children.
“This is the amount of money that conservatively estimated would allow the reference family of four to live in a safe and affordable place, to eat nutritiously, to have transportation options, to educate their children, and provide quality daycare and after-school care,” Hatfield said.
In the report, the authors state that demanding employers voluntarily pay a living wage is not a substitute for an increase to the minimum wage.
Following a bump on Oct. 1, the minimum wage in New Brunswick is now $13.75 – the highest among the Atlantic provinces.
However, advocates are worried about the significant gap between the minimum wage and the calculations of a living wage.
According to Peter Jongeneelen, a co-chair of ACORN New Brunswick, even after a recent increase, New Brunswickers on minimum wage are struggling to make ends meet.
“It’s really putting those people who are working at low wages in a lot of peril. Nobody should have to make a choice of what do I pay first, what can wait. We’re seeing people fall farther and farther behind on bills,” he said in an interview with Global News.
While timelines for future minimum wage increases have been released in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, plans for New Brunswick’s next increase remain unknown.
“We should always be thinking the Maritime way is you help everybody out, and this would be a great way for the Higgs government to really show that they’re truly there to help everyone,” said Jongeneelen.
In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour said, “We recognize the cost of living has increased, which is why government is working hard to reduce poverty in the province to help more New Brunswickers achieve a better quality of life.”
The statement goes on to list a number of ongoing government initiatives, but does not mention plans for an increase to the provincial minimum wage.