Chamber officials concerned with minimum wage hike

  • Sep. 21, 2016 3:41 p.m.

Local Chamber of Commerce officials are concerned about the impacts of the minimum wage increase as another hike is set to occur at the beginning of next month.

Alberta’s minimum wage will rise once again by $1 on Oct. 1st, to the new $12.20 per hour rate.

On the same day, the current liquor server rate of $10.75 will be abolished and liquor servers will now earn the minimum wage rate of $12.20. Additionally, weekly and monthly minimum wages used by certain professions including live-in employees will rise as well, according to the official Alberta Government web site.

Minimum wage will increase again on Oct. 1st, 2017 by $1.40 to $13.60, with the final rise on Oct. 1st, 2018 of $1.40 to bring the minimum wage to the $15 per hour rate.

The Red Deer Chamber of Commerce issued a statement on the minimum wage topic on Sept. 13th. Reg Warkentin, policy and advocacy manager said, “The timing of the increase is especially poor considering the current state of the economy and other cost increases arising from recent provincial policy changes – including the incoming carbon levy.

“Basically, we are in support of helping the working poor, but feel the change to minimum wage is a blunt and ineffective instrument to do so. There are much more effective and targeted ways to help the impoverished.”

He added the Chamber of Commerce has had discussions on the issue and is concerned with the overall competitive nature of Alberta as a place to do business. He said this minimum wage increase could cause more problems to our economy.

“The problem with minimum wage increases is that it will affect a lot of people,” Warkentin said.

“We know from published work by Statistics Canada that only a small portion of minimum wage earners live in impoverished households. We also know that a sizeable portion of those minimum wage earners are students and secondary earners in the household.

“The Government of Alberta also did not distinguish workers earning commission or tips from their data. So the point being with only a small number of minimum wage earners needing help, it would be more effective to do things like discount public transit cards, create affordable child care spaces, and more affordable housing.”

The Wildrose Official Opposition Party released a statement last week saying the minimum wage hike could put thousands of jobs at risk.

“We pleaded with the NDP to put the brakes on their drastic minimum wage increase and listen to common sense for the good of the people we’re trying to support, like vulnerable workers across the province,” Wildrose Shadow Jobs Minister Grant Hunter said. “We asked them to do an economic impact study. Their response was to assess as we go. By the time this government figures it out it may be too little and too late for struggling Albertans.”

In October 2015, general hourly minimum wage was made to be $11.20 for most employees, according to the Government of Alberta web site. The hourly minimum wage for employees serving liquor as part of their regular job was $10.70.

Weekly minimum wage for salespersons, including land agents and other certain professionals was $445, and domestic employees living in their employer’s home was a monthly minimum of $2,127. These numbers will increase to $486, and $2,316 respectively.

kmendonsa@reddeerexpress.com

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