The minimum wage in Nova Scotia will rise to $15 in October, six months earlier than originally planned.
This comes after the province’s Minimum Wage Review Committee recommended last month that the wage increase be accelerated due to the impacts of inflation.
“The minimum wage rate impacts the lives of workers and businesses, and we know the rising cost of inflation has been difficult for both,” said Jill Balser, minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration, in a release Friday.
“After further consultation, we are accepting the full set of recommendations put forward by the Minimum Wage Review Committee. Given the unexpected and significant increase in inflation, the committee carefully considered the impacts and put forth a balanced plan.”
The original plan was to increase the wage to $15 on April 1, 2024.
The release said the minimum wage, which is currently $13.60, will now increase to $14.50 on April 1 and $15 on Oct. 1.
The province also said starting April 1, 2024, the minimum wage rate will be adjusted annually based on the projected annual national CPI percentage change for the previous calendar year, plus an additional one per cent.
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For example, “if CPI is four per cent on April 1, 2024, the minimum wage will increase to $15.25, based on the April 1, 2023, minimum wage of $14.50 plus five per cent,” the release said.
It said the government had sought input from community partners before deciding to follow the Minimum Wage Review Committee’s recommendations.
According to the committee report last month, minimum wage earners made up about seven per cent of workers — 28,500 Nova Scotians — during the period from April 2021 to March 2022.
It said they work primarily in retail trade, followed by food and accommodation industries. Fifty-six per cent of minimum wage earners are female, 64 per cent are non-students, 27 per cent are over the age of 35, 37 per cent are employed full-time and 46 per cent have a post-secondary education.
Even with the accelerated increase, the wage still falls far short of what’s considered a living wage.
According to a September 2022 report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the living wage in the Halifax area was $23.50 last year.
The living wage is calculated based on how much a family of four, with two parents working 35 hours a week, would have to earn to cover all necessities and have a decent quality of life.
Prince Edward Island currently has the highest minimum wage in the Maritime provinces at $14.50, with plans to raise it to $15 in October. New Brunswick’s current minimum wage is $13.75.