Alberta's minimum wage increase doesn't cut it: AFL

2.1 per cent raise slated for country's lowest-paid workers

Workers in the province with the lowest minimum wage rates are set to get a raise next week, but the labour federation says that it’s not enough.

On Sept. 1, minimum wage in Alberta will be bumped up 2.1 per cent from $9.75 to $9.95 per hour, with the minimum wage for liquor servers unchanged at $9.05 per hour. Despite that, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) denounced the increase, saying it puts most of those workers below the poverty line and has them choosing between rent and food.

“The government’s plan to make annual inflation-based increases to the minimum wage has a lot of merit. The problem is that they started doing so only after many years in which they’d allowed inflation to greatly outpace the minimum wage,” McGowan said. “So when they started with the annual increases, the minimum wage was way, way, way too low for Alberta’s economy.”

McGowan estimates that an employee earning minimum wage at 35 hours a week will earn less than $20,000 a year — well below Statistics Canada’s defined poverty line of $23,298.

However, the Human Services department said their formula — based on possible increases to average weekly earnings and the consumer price index — is a good starting point for those just entering the work force.

Minister Dave Hancock added only 1.8 per cent of employees in Alberta earn the minimum wage, the lowest percentage of minimum wage earners in all of the provinces.

In Ontario and British Columbia, the minimum wage is $10.25 per hour, and in Nunavut, minimum wage is $11 an hour. On Oct. 1, minimum wage in Manitoba will increase to $10.45.

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