Saskatchewan is on track to have the lowest minimum wage in Canada in April, following a significant increase in New Brunswick’s wage earlier this week.
New Brunswick announced that raise your minimum wage from $ 11.75 to $ 12.75, then rose again in October to $ 13.75.
Regina’s Poverty Reduction Ministry said that when speaking to people who are struggling financially, it is clear that the Saskatchewan $ 11.81 salary is not enough.
“We need to have a minimum wage that is a real living wage. The starting point we’ve been asking for is $ 15 an hour, but even $ 15 an hour is below what has been calculated as a living wage, ”said Peter Gilmer, an advocate for the Anti-Poverty Ministry.
Gilmer added that the $ 15-an-hour mark does not take into account recent inflation rates.
“Recently, the cost of basic necessities, including food, has risen very rapidly,” he said. “[Saskatchewan] it is constantly competing for the lowest minimum wage in the country and that causes considerable difficulties. “
Gilmer said the low minimum wage is related to other poverty problems that persist in Saskatchewan.
“When we legislate a low minimum wage, when we legislate income assistance rates that do not meet basic needs, we are indexing poverty and legislating poverty,” he said.
In addition to a higher minimum wage, Gilmer said that adequate income assistance benefits and quality, affordable housing and child care options would go a long way toward reducing poverty.
A significant increase in the minimum wage is not welcomed by everyone.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said that many small businesses in the province are still feeling the financial burden of COVID-19.
Kathleen Cook, a senior policy analyst at CFIB, said many small businesses already pay their employees more than minimum wage if they can. He said a lower tax burden from the province could be a way to help employers pay a higher salary.
“A significant jump like the one we saw in New Brunswick would simply not be feasible for many small businesses, so I think it is important that the Saskatchewan government consult with the small business community before implementing any changes,” Cook said.
The Saskatchewan Government said that each minimum wage increase is calculated based on its minimum wage formula that gives equal weight to the percentage change in the provincial median hourly wage and the consumer price index from prior years as published. by Statistics Canada.
“We have had, for the last decade, a highly predictable formula,” said Don Morgan, Minister of Labor Relations. “We are in a challenging time in the nation and in our province. We come out of COVID-19 and we do not want to do anything to put a brake on the viability of the companies that are trying to function, so it is something that we are going to maintain stability ”.
The minimum wage increased by 36 cents on October 1, 2021.