Wildrose Shadow Minister for Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour Grant Hunter recently stopped in Red Deer to discuss the minimum wage plan and how his party would address moving forward with it.
Hunter kicked off the tour on Oct. 5th, with the intention of stopping in communities to speak to potentially affected persons.
“One of the messages we’re bringing to Red Deer is this: the NDP government has come out with a $15/hour minimum wage, which is a 50 per cent increase from eight days ago. What we’re trying to say to people is, ‘What are you looking at for cost? how is it going to affect businesses? How’s it going to affect labour? Will we lose jobs?’.
“We want to find out the full picture here,” said Hunter. “What we’re trying to say to people is that maybe we need to step back from this and look at it a little more carefully.”
Hunter and his team are making stops in Okotoks, Calgary, Airdrie, Innisfail, Red Deer and Lacombe for this leg of the tour. He has chosen to speak to selected business owners and chains about the potentials of change in their industry with the increases.
“This whole process of a tour is about connecting to people. We want to be able to raise awareness – there is a big issue, and that is the NDP saying this is a living wage. We want to make sure that people understand this isn’t about a living wage. We believe that people should have a living wage, but the process of getting there is different,” he said.
He said Albertans may be in favour of the proposed minimum wage, but that it could potentially cause them to later lose jobs due to the pressure on businesses.
On the living wage, Hunter said a number cannot be given as to what would be appropriate because it changes in accordance with where Albertans are located in the province.
“What’s appropriate in Calgary is not appropriate in say, Lethbridge. The numbers (in Central Alberta) I think would probably be more in line with what’s in Edmonton – but what’s the number? In my personal opinion, the number should be dictated by the market. As the market can bear it, people should be paid more. If the market can’t bear it, people will lose their jobs. There are always consequences to any policy we bring in.