Province beefs up Alberta's minimum wage by a buck
Alberta’s general minimum wage will increase to $11.20 from $10.20 per hour on October 1, 2015.
Alberta’s NDP government is boosting the minimum wage in the fall and says the goal is to achieve a $15 per hour rate by 2018.
Currently, the general minimum wage in Alberta is $10.20 per hour and $9.20 per hour for liquor servers.
“Alberta’s minimum wage is currently the lowest in the country, yet we have one of the highest costs of living. We promised Albertans we would raise minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018, and we will stick to that promise. We’re taking a significant step towards our goal for 2015 and will continue this path in future years,” said Rachel Notley, Alberta Premier.
The new rates take effect on October 1, 2015 as follows:
- An hourly minimum wage of $11.20 for most employees
- An hourly minimum wage of $10.70 for employees serving liquor as part of their regular job (note the liquor server rate will be eliminated in 2016)
- A weekly minimum wage of $446 for many salespersons, including land agents and certain professionals
- A monthly minimum wage of $2,127 for domestic employees
“We have listened closely to Albertans and have taken their views and suggestions into account. Our plan includes a $1 increase to the general minimum wage this year, plus a two-year phase out of the liquor server rate. We will continue to consult with stakeholders as we move forward on our goal over the next three years,” said Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour. “We have weighed all the input and advice and concerns that were raised and have come up with a moderate, reasonable approach.”
The liquor server rate will be eliminated all together on October 1, 2016 and the general rate will then apply to all minimum wage employees.
The province says the boost to the wages in the fall is the first step in its goal of obtaining a minimum wage of $15 per hour by 2018.
The Wildrose Party says the NDP are pushing the increase through without doing the analysis on how it will affect employment and that the policy could lead to job losses and an increase in youth unemployment.
“There has been zero economic analysis of the impact of the dramatic increase to the minimum wage,” said Wildrose Leader Brian Jean. “We need to put on the brakes, listen to chambers, small businesses and job creators to make sure we understand the full impact of this planned 50 per cent increase.”
The Liberals say the proposal ‘lacks balance’ and recommends the wage hike be accompanied by small business tax reductions to cushion the blow associated with a rise in payroll costs.
“Trusted leadership is about balance,” said Leader Dr. David Swann. “We have generally supported minimum wage increases. However, the NDP seem determined to raise the minimum wage on an artificial timeline without considering the impact it will have on small businesses in these hard economic times.”
Swann and his party are also calling for an economic impact study into the effect on small business from a rapid increase in the minimum wage.
The PC Leader agrees that the increase could result in job losses and adds that the wage boost could also result in higher prices.
“Many Alberta small businesses, service and community organizations will have to cut their hours of operation or pass on their higher costs of doing business to their clients,” said PC Leader Ric McIver. “We have continued to press the government for answers about how a $15 an hour minimum wage is going to improve our economy. It seems to be a number pulled out of the air with no basis in fact.”
McIver says studies show that as many as 11,000 jobs are lost for every ten percent increase in minimum wage.
“This will make it harder for people with the least amount of experience to get a job. We’ve continued to tell the government this increase will hurt the very people it’s intended to help. We find it revealing that the government is so tied to ideology that
every time someone presents a differing economic opinion, specifically concern about the potential for high job losses, this government rejects that opinion as ‘fear-mongering,” he said.
Both the Liberals and Wildrose say the NDP recently rejected a motion to lower the small business tax rate from three to two percent, despite having support from all opposition parties.
Sigurdson says the NDP has consulted with small business and the party is also concerned about the impact of an increase.
“That’s why we’re doing a very phased in approach. We’re certainly being pulled on the other side to go to $15 an hour this year so we’re being moderate, we’re taking into consideration what they said and absolutely its important for us to support small business,” she said.
The province says anyone with questions about minimum wages can contact the Employment Standards Contact Centre at 780-427-3731, or toll-free at 1-877-427-3731 or visit work.alberta.ca/minimumwage.
For more information on Alberta’s minimum wage click HERE.
Minimum wages in Canada comparison chart