Manitoba is about to have the dubious distinction of offering the lowest minimum wage in Canada.
The province will claim the title in October, after Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced on Tuesday his province will boost its minimum wage — currently the country’s lowest — from $11.81 an hour to $13 an hour this fall.
It’s part of a plan Moe’s Saskatchewan Party government says will gradually get the province’s workers to a minimum wage of $15 an hour by October 2024.
Saskatchewan has previously tied minimum wage increases to a formula based on the inflation rate. The province will temporarily divert from that formula to speed up its hikes.
Manitoba follows its own formula, informed by cost of living increases. As a result, the province will raise its minimum wage in October from $11.95 an hour to $12.35 — a 40-cent increase, but one that will still leave Manitoba with the lowest wage in Canada.
“That’s an embarrassment,” Manitoba Federation of Labour president Kevin Rebeck said in a statement.
“And if Premier Heather Stefanson was concerned about the struggles facing low-wage workers in our province, she would be embarrassed too.”
New Brunswick’s minimum wage was dead last in Canada, until the province announced a plan late in 2021 to increase wages its labour minister called “downright embarrassing.” That province boosted the wage by $1 in April of this year, bringing it to $12.75, and is planning another $1 per hour increase in October.
Rebeck accused Manitoba’s government of leaving thousands of minimum wage earners in poverty, as families grapple with rising costs for everything from food to fuel.
“These increased costs hit low-wage workers particularly hard,” he said.
Manitoba workers deserve better than a wage that is “dead last in the country,” he said, calling for the province to “take immediate steps to make Manitoba’s minimum wage a living wage.”
NDP Leader Wab Kinew has also previously called on the Progressive Conservative government to introduce a living wage.
“Manitobans work hard to provide for their families and build up our economy — they deserve better than last place,” he said.
“No one working full time should live in poverty. The PCs need to pay Manitobans a living wage and help families get ahead.”
In question period last month, Labour Minister Reg Helwer said Manitoba has removed the politics from minimum wage increases by relying on a predetermined formula.
He accused former NDP governments of twice raising the minimum wage before an election to earn political points.
Indexing the minimum wage to inflation “provides cost predictability for employers and ensures the wage’s purchasing power is maintained,” a spokesperson for Helwer wrote in an email Tuesday.
The province consults regularly with employer and employee groups and associations on the wage, the spokesperson said, and “monitors minimum wage levels across the country to ensure Manitoba’s minimum is appropriate and sufficient.”
View original article here Source