Higher minimum wage not the answer to poverty
— Raising income-tax exemptions to remove people at the bottom of the income ladder entirely from the tax rolls is a more effective way to fight poverty than increasing the minimum wage, according to a report from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. The report states that if Manitoba and Saskatchewan were to raise their provincial income-tax exemption from $9,600 to $15,600, the level used in Alberta, it would generate the same income as setting the minimum wage at $9.20 an hour. For Albertans, if the federal tax exemption was also raised to $15,600, it would increase the incomes of the working poor by 15 per cent, according to the report.
Alberta increases protection for foreign workers
— Two special advisory offices and a team of inspectors will help ensure temporary foreign workers in Alberta are being treated fairly in their workplaces, according to Alberta’s Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry. The advisory offices will provide temporary foreign workers with one-stop access to information and services, including help resolving employment standards issues. The team of eight employment standards officers will investigate complaints from temporary foreign workers and carry out inspections of companies that employ them.
Feds pledge $1-billion for ailing industries
— Primer Minister Stephen Harper has announced a $1-billion national aid program to help single-industry towns hit hard by economic downturns and layoffs. The money will fund skills training programs, infrastructure and community development plans, among other initiatives. Provinces will each receive a base amount of $10 million and the territories $3 million. The rest is being divided among provinces and territories on a per-capita basis. For example, Quebec will receive $216 million and Ontario $350 million. The money is a one-time deal and will only be paid out if this spring’s federal budget is passed.