When the NDP won the Alberta Provincial election, the entire country seemed pretty surprised – this was the first change in power in Alberta since 1971.
With the change came a lot of promises to Albertans, perhaps most controversial of all was the pledge to raise the minimum wage to $15 within three years.
And heading into 2016, the controversy has returned with an internal document that was obtained by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. CFIB spokesman Richard Truscott said the document warns of job losses due to the hike.
According to the Calgary Herald, the note also said that ‘more research needs to be done’ before raising the wage and ‘Alberta will essentially be sailing into uncharted waters at this point.’
With low oil prices in the province, many groups, business owners and concerned Albertans have called for the NDP government to re-evaluate the decision.
Alberta lost 63,500 jobs in the first eight months of this year, according to government data.
Premier Rachel Notley and the NDP have said from the beginning that the raise would ‘create more jobs and ensure workers in the province receive a living wage.’
In October, the NDP raised the minimum wage from $10.20 per hour, the lowest minimum wage in the country along with Saskatchewan, to $11.20 per hour which makes it the third highest.
Those in favour of the increase have said that ‘cost of living has outstripped wage growth’ and a living wage would allow workers to cover basic human needs. They pointed out that raising the minimum wage would have positive effects for the overall community.
Jobs that are not unionized in the province can sometimes be precarious, with unstable hours and wages and no benefits. Those who are hired on a contract basis, and have no one to back them up when it comes to layoffs may see their jobs go first in the struggling economy.
Notley did say last week that the government may not raise the minimum wage to $15 and hour by 2018 if the economy remains as it is.
“Going forward we’re going to continue to get the best information we can. We’re also going to evaluate the state of the economy,” Notley said.