Come Sunday it will be five years since minimum-wage earners in Alberta have seen a wage increase and the Alberta Federation of Labour’s president calls it a sad anniversary.
The minimum wage in Alberta remains $15 an hour.
“Since the last increase in the minimum wage, the cost of living in Alberta has gone up by 18 per cent, which is the largest jump in inflation in more than 40 years,” said federation president Gil McGowan in a statement.
“Yet, despite rapidly rising costs for everything, the Alberta government hasn’t increased the minimum wage. It’s hard not to see this as anything other than a deliberate wage suppression strategy at the worst possible time for Albertans.”
He encouraged citizens to ask the Premier Danielle Smith’s government tough questions.
“Do they even believe in having a minimum wage? As Albertans struggle to pay their bills with paychecks that are worth less and less, they deserve answers.”
He dismissed government suggestions that they don’t need to increase the minimum wage because they’ve introduced a series of what they describe as “affordability measures.”
“Their grab bag of promises is no substitute for an increase to the minimum wage. The best way that the government can help citizens deal with the rising cost of living is to help ensure that workers get wages that keep up with inflation. Anything else is just window dressing,” McGowan said.
Andrea Smith, press secretary for Alberta Jobs, Economy and Trade Minister Matt Jones, said Alberta’s government has no immediate plans to change the current minimum wage.
“Maintaining the current minimum wage gives employers and employees predictability and stability during a time of economic growth and labour shortages,” Smith said in a statement.
Brad Lafortune, executive director of Public Interest Alberta, said the minimum wage should be rising but Alberta also needs to have a serious, urgent conversation that will lead to living wage policy.
He said more workers are saying enough is enough.
“People are facing real housing insecurity. People are actually making real choices between whether to pay for their prescriptions or their groceries. It’s shameful.”