Mixed reactions to minimum wage hike

The minimum wage increase has gotten mixed reactions since being first introduced by the NDP last year. Depending who you talk to, some say this is a positive step for Albertans who make minimum wage now, while others say it will hurt business and consumers who will ultimately pay the price for the hike.

Last week, the province mapped out the next steps toward a $15 minimum wage by 2018 following several weeks of consultation. The increases to minimum wage will move nearly 300,000 Albertans closer to earning a living wage for their families and provide certainty to businesses.

Alberta’s general minimum wage will rise $1 to $12.20 per hour and the current liquor server rate will be removed, effective Oct. 1st. Weekly and monthly minimum wages used by certain professions will rise to $486 and $2,316, respectively, at the same time.

Minimum wage will rise a further $1.40, to $13.60 per hour, on Oct. 1st, 2017, and by $1.40, to $15 per hour, on Oct. 1st, 2018. Weekly and monthly rates will rise by equivalent amounts.

Some business owners say the wage increase is a good thing resulting in higher wages, longer staff retention, reduction of training costs, improvement of staff morale which all benefits customers and colleagues.

“Albertans who work full time should be able to live with dignity, and that means being able to afford rent, food and transportation for their families. This plan for Alberta’s minimum wage provides long-term certainty to employers and workers,” said Christina Gray, minister of Alberta Labour.

However, not all opinions are positive. Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann called on the government to listen to the concerns of business owners and recognize that timing and scale of change are important for both business solvency and employment.

Swann said the minimum wage increase comes not only in a serious recession with higher taxes, but also in the wake of an increase in Canadian Pension Plan premiums that was agreed to on June 20th. With many small businesses already struggling with the economic downturn, a dramatic increase in the minimum wage could be the end of a dream for many entrepreneurs, he added.

“Despite all its consultations, this government is clearly not attuned to the needs of business owners,” said Swann. “Either they’re simply refusing to listen to what businesses have to say, or they’re too ideologically driven to acknowledge the timing of their plan needs to be reconsidered; either way, they are not paying attention to the reality of the business climate today.

“I urge the government to take its head out of the sand and recognize the concerns of those that will be negatively affected by their policy,” Swann concluded. “This one-sided, top-down approach to the issue threatens to do more harm than good.”

The Alberta Chambers of Commerce said the announcement is cause for concern.

“We’re disappointed that the impacts to small and medium-sized employers and their employees, in our opinion, have not been considered and we’re worried about the unintended consequences as costs continue to layer on businesses. Quite frankly, we are very concerned for the health of small and medium-sized businesses going forward,” say’s Ken Kobly, ACC President & CEO. “This isn’t about fear-mongering, this is us communicating our members’ experiences and what they see as their options and the challenges for their employees going forward.”

Fourteen months after making an election promise to increase the minimum wage at the current pace, details of what continued increases will mean for minimum wage earners and employers have not been disclosed in relation to the current economic reality the province finds itself in, he said.

“The Government of Alberta has ignored how these increases will affect minimum wage earners and their access to income tested supports such as GST, Canadian Child Tax Benefit and the Working Income Tax Benefit. Ignoring these programs will mean that the Government of Canada will benefit from clawing back a portion of these income-tested benefits.”

Just Posted

City rejects $50,000 rent supplement for Asooahum Crossing

Council will advocate provincial, federal governments for sustainable funding

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Series launches Feb. 22nd in the Nickle Studios

Three one-acts already sold out, full-length June production is in the works

Innisfail RCMP arrest male found in a locked business

Estimated damages well above $5,000

Red Deer RCMP make arrest in January bank robbery

Man wielded rifle evening of Jan. 25th

RDC’s new Pre-Health Sciences Certificate provides learners with a foundation for future careers

Red Deer College is set to begin their new Pre-Health Sciences Certificate Program in September 2018.

WATCH: New Habitat for Humanity builds in Red Deer launched

Organization has 130 families on the waiting list for new homes

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Patrick Brown’s Tory leadership bid fate looms

Brown’s bid to for Tory leadership to be decided on Wednesday

Yelling vulgar slur at reporter not a crime says judge

Judge rules ‘vulgar’ slur against reporter was not a public disturbance

Students head to Florida capital to press for gun law change

Young protestors are joining a grassroots movement against gun violence in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida

Liberals look at use-it-or-lose-it parental leave for dads

Liberals looking at creating a use-it-or-lose-it leave for fathers, Trudeau says

Fred Rogers, America’s favourite neighbour, celebrated in 2018

The golden anniversary of America’s favorite neighbor is being celebrated with a PBS special next month

Toddler breaks leg after boot sucked into escalator at Vancouver airport

A Calgary woman is reminding parents of the dangers of escalators after her toddler’s foot was stuck in one and he broke his leg

Moose creates uber Canadian Olympic moment

A Calgary man shares a truly Canadian moment on Twitter of a Moose enjoying the Olympics

Most Read