Minimum wage has been a hot topic in the news this month. On May 4 The NDP government in Nova Scotia announced a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, phased in over 3 years.
On May 1 Quebec raised its minimum wage $11.25 from $10.75 and Manitoba has hinted at raising their minimum wage as well.
But many have said that the hike in Quebec and the proposed hike in Manitoba is not enough, and advocates across Canada say that many provinces do not have a minimum wage that is enough for people to live on.
Inequality is an issue in Canada. A recent study by the conference board of Canada ranked us 13 out of 16 peer countries on the measure of inequality and we had the fourth highest poverty rate.
Craig Riddell from the University of B.C.’s Vancouver School of Economics pointed out in an interview with the Globe and Mail that between 1982 and 2010 the bottom 90 per cent of Canadians counted a total growth n family income of 2 per cent, while the top 10 percent experienced 75 per cent.
“The distribution of the gains have been extremely uneven and most of the benefits have gone to the people at the very top,” he said.
The Alberta NDP government has said that they will officially raise the minimum wage to $15 and hour by Oct.1, 2018.
Critics have said that this increase will hurt businesses already suffering in the recession, while those supporting the raise in wage argue the impact on businesses won’t be very significant.
Currently the living wage in Calgary is $18.15 and in Edmonton it is $16.69.
Joining a union is something that can benefit all workers when it comes to wages, health and welfare and job security.
Union workers earn $4.88 per hor more than non union, with women earning $7.76 per hour more, aboriginal workers earning $8.47 per hour more and new Canadians earning $3.49 per hour more.
As the year goes on it will be interesting to see how many other provinces and territories jump on raising the minimum wage.