Alberta to consult with employers before phasing in minimum wage hikes

Province's minimum wage is currently one of the lowest in Canada.

EDMONTON (CP) — Alberta's new NDP government is laying out the process it will use to meet its pledge of raising the province's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018.

The province's current minimum wage is $10.20, among the lowest in Canada, although salespeople and liquor servers earn less.

Labour Minister Lori Sigurdson said next month the government will consult with groups that normally employ people who earn minimum wage as well as labour groups.

"I look forward to reporting back to Albertans by early July regarding phased increases to the minimum wage taking effect Oct. 1.," she said Friday in a news release.

A government spokesman said the meetings in June will help determine when and by how much the rate will increase over the years until 2018.

The October date for the first stage of the rate hike is to give businesses time to prepare for the change.

Next month, the Northwest Territories is to raise its minimum wage to $12.50 — the highest in Canada.

Ontario's rate is to jump 25 cents to $11.25 on Oct. 1.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann said the NDP government must report on how raising the minimum wage will affect small businesses before changing the rate.

Swann said the Liberals support the idea of gradual increases to the minimum wage, but it would be irresponsible to raise it too high, too quickly.

"Alberta's small businesses are struggling immensely in the current economic environment," Swann said.

"Ensuring that these businesses are protected and able to weather these tough times needs to be a priority, and any new economic policies need to take their needs into account."

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