Red Deer Chamber supports lowering minimum wage for youth, alcohol servers

UCP Jason Kenney is pushing for the change

Rick More, Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce CEO, supports reducing minimum wage in Alberta. Contributed photo

The Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce wants minimum wage for youths and alcohol servers to be reduced.

United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney recently said if the party wins power in the upcoming election, it will consider lowering minimum wage for those two groups.

Rick More, Chamber CEO, said a reduction in minimum wage would help businesses, especially with a struggling economy.

“Reduced revenue and increased cost is never a good formula,” said More.

More said the Alberta Chambers of Commerce has voiced concerns about the NDP government increasing minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“We see (the effects) here in Red Deer – there are restaurants that are barely making it now,” said More. “The profits at a restaurant are pretty minimal after the cost of goods and payroll. It’s pretty tough to be taking anything home and through recessions their … revenue is already down.”

The Alberta Chambers sent a seven-point recommendation to the government last year regarding minimum wage. These recommendations included implementing special minimum wage rates for students under 18 and restoring a wage differential for those earning tips and/or commissions.

There are other options the government could look at, More added.

“In England their minimum wage is rated by age and whether they’re living at home. It’s specific and not just a general hike for everyone,” he said.

Alcohol servers used to make a dollar an hour less than the minimum wage on the assumption they would get it back in tips. That disparity was eliminated under the NDP.

Kenney has not committed to putting a graduated minimum wage into his platform, but has said the party doesn’t plan to raise minimum pay. He said lowering the minimum wage would help struggling eateries keep their doors open while allowing them to hire more people.

Premier Rachel Notley said the $15 minimum wage “means a lot to these young workers.”

– With files from The Canadian Press

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