Alberta vaults from one of lowest minimum-wage payers to one of highest

Alberta, one of the lowest payers of minimum wage in Canada, is becoming one of the highest.

EDMONTON — Alberta, one of the lowest payers of minimum wage in Canada, is becoming one of the highest.

Jobs Minister Lori Sigurdson announced Monday that the $10.20 per hour minimum wage will rise by $1 to $11.20 an hour on Oct. 1.

When that kicks in, only Ontario ($11.25 an hour on Oct. 1) and the Northwest Territories (currently at $12.50 an hour) will pay more to those who earn the least.

Saskatchewan will then be the lowest, at $10.20 an hour.

Sigurdson said the decision was as much about social policy as economics.

“We believe minimum wage should at least allow people to meet their basic needs,” Sigurdson told reporters.

“Paying people a decent minimum wage will translate into a better life for low-income workers and, as a result, a better life for their families and for all Albertans.”

She also said the NDP government remains on track to hike the rate to $15 an hour by 2018, in keeping with its campaign promise in the May 5 election.

The province will further do away with its minimum wage differential, which pays liquor servers $9.20 an hour on the assumption they make up the rest in tips. Alberta is one of five provinces with a differential.

Sigurdson said liquor servers will make $1.50 more an hour — $10.70 — on Oct. 1, but the differential will end in 2016.

The wage hike is one of several initiatives launched by Premier Rachel Notley’s government to remake how the province raises and spends money. It has already passed legislation to hike taxes on large corporations to 12 per cent from 10 per cent and to boost income taxes on the top seven per cent of earners.

Monday’s announcement caps weeks of heated debate on the merits of rapid hikes in minimum wage, with arguments cleaved along ideological lines.

Business groups have joined the Opposition Wildrose party and the Conservatives in fighting the move, saying it will lead to price hikes or massive job layoffs.

Unions have joined the NDP, arguing the pay increase will recirculate throughout the economy, with everyone benefiting.

Ken Kobly, president of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce, said he is relieved this year’s wage hike is not higher than $1.

He said the bigger increase will adversely affect employers, and his team will be working over the next few years to convince the government to alleviate social inequality through other means.

“We would like to see perhaps a method that is smarter, that targets in fact those people who do need it at the poverty level,” Kobly said.

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said the NDP is ramming ahead with sweeping changes with little thought to the ramifications.

“We need to put on the brakes, listen to chambers, small businesses and job creators to make sure we understand the full impact of this,” Jean said in a release.

Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark agreed, saying it’s disappointing the NDP didn’t look at alternatives or the bigger picture.

Liberal Leader David Swann said the change must be balanced out by, perhaps, reductions in small business taxes.

Just Posted

Scares and chills await at haunted house in Red Deer

Zed Haunted House helps raise money for Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer District

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

Queens raised $12,035 for the Central Alberta Cancer Centre.

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Turkey to reveal details of probe into Khashoggi’s killing

ISTANBUL — In a sign of growing pressure on Saudi Arabia, Turkey… Continue reading

Utah truck driver is jailed without bond after crash kills 6

HEBER, Utah — A man suspected of driving under the influence remained… Continue reading

A ragged, growing army of migrants resumes march toward US

TAPACHULA, Mexico — A ragged army of Honduran migrants streamed through southern… Continue reading

Postal workers to begin strikes in 4 Canadian cities Monday if deal not reached

OTTAWA — The union representing 50,000 Canada Post employees says it will… Continue reading

Migrant caravan swells to 5,000, resumes advance toward US

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the… Continue reading

“I don’t feel real”: Mental stress mounting after Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Amy Cross has a hard time explaining the… Continue reading

Toronto residents set to vote Monday on the next four years of civic leaders

Toronto’s municipal election campaign, marked by unprecedented provincial interference, ends Monday when… Continue reading

Former PQ minister Lise Payette remembered as role model for female politicians

MONTREAL — Members from across Quebec’s political spectrum gathered at a downtown… Continue reading

Most Read