Min­i­mum wage jump to $15 per hour will pro­vide job sta­bil­ity, says Al­berta labour min­is­ter

Fort McMurray Today - - ALBERTA NEWS - CLARE CLANCY cclancy@postmedia.com

The prov­ince’s phased-in min­i­mum wage hike will hit $15 per hour next month, spurring Al­berta’s Labour Min­is­ter to shop the change around lo­cal busi­nesses Mon­day.

“We know what this pol­icy does,” said Min­is­ter Christina Gray at a news con­fer­ence held at a board game cafe. “In­creas­ing the min­i­mum wage puts more money in the pock­ets of fam­i­lies, women (and) work­ing peo­ple who are try­ing to sur­vive in our prov­ince.”

The min­i­mum wage was $10.20 an hour in 2015. Since then, the NDP has phased in in­creases that reached $13.60 last year.

The pol­icy has been crit­i­cized by the United Con­ser­va­tive Party, with mem­bers ar­gu­ing it will kill jobs.

Some re­ports from think tanks and econ­o­mists have sug­gested the move could lead to be­tween 10,000 and 25,000 job cuts in the prov­ince.

But Gray said the pol­icy will help to grow the econ­omy, cit­ing 90,000 new jobs cre­ated last year.

“Go­ing for­ward, we know that pay­ing a lit­tle bit more to work­ers will pro­vide greater sta­bil­ity, lower turnover, more loy­alty,” she said. “We hear that a lot from busi­nesses that pay at or above that higher min­i­mum wage — that there is a ben­e­fit in re­ten­tion and lower train­ing costs.”

On Mon­day, Gray and MLA David Shep­herd spoke with sev­eral Ed­mon­ton busi­nesses about the change.

Brian Flow­ers, owner of Ta­ble Top cafe, said he feels the in­crease is nec­es­sary so that Al­ber­tans have more dis­pos­able in­come. His two lo­ca­tions em­ploy 19 work­ers, who al­most all work for min­i­mum wage.

“It hits my costs a lit­tle bit, but I think the to­tal sales will in­crease be­cause of it,” he said. “It’s fairly cheap to come here … it’s some­thing more peo­ple can do with just a lit­tle bit more in­come.”

Al­berta will have the high­est min­i­mum wage in the coun­try on Oct. 1, Gray said.

“We know ex­actly who our min­i­mum-wage earn­ers are,” she said, adding 75 per cent are 20 or older, more than 60 per cent are women and 33 per cent have chil­dren. “Try­ing to sur­vive in a city like Ed­mon­ton or Cal­gary, earn­ing $22,000 a year … would be so dif­fi­cult.”

GREG SOUTHAM / POSTMEDIA

Labour Min­is­ter Christina Gray.

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