All cit­i­zens should ben­e­fit

If gen­eral busi­ness com­mu­nity do­ing well, this should be re­flected in wages paid to work­ers

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY SONNY GAL­LANT Sonny Gal­lant is P.E.I.’s min­is­ter of Work­force and Ad­vanced Learn­ing.

Over the past cou­ple of years, Prince Ed­ward Is­land has en­joyed a pe­riod of strong and sus­tain­able eco­nomic growth.

In fact, our prov­ince leads At­lantic Canada in many eco­nomic in­di­ca­tors - and that record of suc­cess is likely to con­tinue. For in­stance, the Con­fer­ence Board of Canada is pre­dict­ing that our econ­omy will grow by 1.8 per cent this year. That is well above the fore­cast growth in Nova Sco­tia, New Brunswick and New­found­land.

As a re­sult of this ex­pan­sion, em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties are also ris­ing.

Be­tween May of 2016 and May of this year, there was a 3.9 per cent in­crease in the num­ber of em­ploy­ees (sea­son­ally ad­justed). This rapid rise in em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­nity was by far - the high­est in­crease in Canada dur­ing that pe­riod.

In tan­dem with that growth in em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, our man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor is also do­ing very well. For ex­am­ple, man­u­fac­tur­ing sales dur­ing the January-May pe­riod grew by 3.2 per cent over the same pe­riod last year. This growth is par­tic­u­larly en­cour­ag­ing, be­cause it re­flects in­creas­ing eco­nomic di­ver­sity on Prince Ed­ward Is­land.

Given this his­toric eco­nomic ex­pan­sion, it is very im­por­tant for Prince Ed­ward Is­land to en­sure that all its cit­i­zens are ca­pa­ble of ben­e­fit­ting from im­proved eco­nomic con­di­tions.

One way to do that is to grad­u­ally in­crease the min­i­mum wage paid to Is­land work­ers.

To my mind, if the gen­eral busi­ness com­mu­nity is do­ing well, this should be re­flected in the wages paid to work­ers. And for that rea­son, gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to en­sure that the min­i­mum wage in­creases grad­u­ally and sus­tain­ably in the years to come. We are com­mit­ted to work­ing with our busi­ness com­mu­nity and as pre­vi­ously com­mit­ted, we will pro­vide ap­pro­pri­ate no­tice of any fu­ture in­creases.

Re­cently, the Guardian pub­lished a let­ter which sug­gested that “ba­sic eco­nomic prin­ci­ples sug­gest that in­creas­ing min­i­mum wage will re­sult in job losses.”

With all due re­spect, I would point out the in­crease in the num­ber of em­ploy­ees be­tween May of 2016 and May of 2017.

Dur­ing this pe­riod, min­i­mum wages in­creased - and so did the de­mand for em­ploy­ees.

I firmly be­lieve that as we con­tinue to ex­pe­ri­ence eco­nomic growth and diver­si­fi­ca­tion on Prince Ed­ward Is­land, we have to help en­sure that all cit­i­zens have the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in that growth.

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