Minimum wage makes final jump to $15

Tough to deal with, says local business owner

Callie Hermanson
Lakeside Leader

The Alberta government has raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour on October 1 to help hard-working families make ends meet, it says, and build an economy that works for everyone. That’s one side of the story. The other is employers that don’t like it at all.

The province says the increase of $1.40 per hour will make life better for hundreds of thousands of workers and is the final step in the government’s commitment, made in 2015, to a fairer wage for all Albertans.

“Every hard-working Albertan deserves to be paid fairly,” says Minister of Labour Christina Gray. “The $15 minimum wage will make life more affordable for women, single parents, families, and everyone who has been working a full-time job or more but is still struggling to put food on the table and pay their rent.”

Government spokesman Benjamin Lof adds the increased minimum wage is good for the overall economy as well. He says every extra dollar that goes into the pockets of Albertans gets invested back into their community and the local economy.

Based on a 40-hour week, someone making the increased minimum wage will earn $2,912 more per year.

Lof mentions more than a quarter million Albertans earn less than $15 per hour. He says they represent over 11 per cent of all workers and only 24 per cent are aged 15 to 19.

Lof adds over 40 per cent are aged 20 to 34 and over 12 per cent are aged 55 and up.

Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) are women. Over half (53 per cent) work full time and 76 per cent have permanent jobs. About 37 per cent have children.

But not everyone feels the same way about the increase in wage. Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman, who owns a Boston Pizza, says for small to medium business owners who deal with entry-level jobs, the wage increase is an extremely difficult task to take on. He says to cope he had to streamline staffing and is now less willing to take a chance on people.

“The biggest issue is students and people who make gratuities are also included [in the increase].”

Warman says a misconception people have is that you can just pass the increased cost on to the customer. He says customers are not going to want to pay more for products.

Warman adds his business has had to reduce things to compensate.
“Boston Pizza donates a lot to the community and now we have to step back and reevaluate how much we donate to the community”

Warmen says more money has to come from somewhere.

“It is unfortunate that the government did no consultation and had no economical data to support the raise,” he says.

Employers and employees with questions about minimum wage can reach the Employment Standards Contact Centre at 780-427-3731, or toll-free at 1-877-427-3731, or visit www.work.alberta.ca/es.

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