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Minimum wage rise won’t have big impact locally

Red Deer’s strong labour market means the impending increase to the minimum wage will have limited impact, according to the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce.

But unionized workers are on average ahead of non-unionized workers in Red Deer, earning $6-plus more an hour ,according to research done by the Canadian Labour Congress.

Reg Warkentin, Red Deer Chamber policy co-ordinator, said Red Deer has a strong labour market, meaning not many employers offer minimum wage because they need to attract workers.

The increase in the minimum wage is “not going to have too big of an impact because so many businesses here are facing such a competitive environment for finding workers there aren’t many paying minimum wage,” said Warkentin. “It will have an impact to some businesses’ bottom line, but not a very large impact.”

Employees working at minimum wage can expect a slight increase to their wages. The Alberta minimum wage will rise by 35 cents and will no longer be the lowest in the country.

As of Sept. 1, the minimum wage will be $10.20 an hour. Alberta’s minimum wage was the last in Canada to be less than $10 an hour.

Liquor servers will also see an increase of 15 cents to $9.20 an hour as their new minimum wage.

A survey done by the Canadian Labour Congress indicates that being in a union has benefits for workers.

According to research by the CLC, the average unionized worker in Red Deer makes $6.04 an hour more than non-union workers.

CLC president Hassan Yussuff said the extra money a unionized Red Deer worker makes “translates to an extra $2.4 million every week paid into the local community.”

The survey done by the CLC looked at wages in 76 Canadian metropolitan and other census areas. Across Alberta, unionized workers earn an average of $4.75 an hour more than non-unionized workers.

The study also indicated that unionized female workers earn $7.80 an hour more than non-unionized women and people between the ages of 15 and 29 earn $5.35 more an hour if they belong to a union.

July’s employment numbers from Statistics Canada show that Red Deer’s unemployment rate is 2.8 per cent, well below the 4.4 per cent average across the province and significantly lower than the national unemployment rate of seven per cent.

mcrawford@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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