Friday, September 29, 2017

Alberta's minimum wage to increase to $13.60 Oct. 1

Chris Davis - Minimum wage in Alberta will increase from $12.20 per hour to $13.60 per hour on October 1.

Employers and employees 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

Alberta's NDP government intends to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by October 1, 2018.  On October 1, 2016 the minimum wage was raised from $11.20 /hr to $12.20/hr.  A $1.40/hr increase is planned for October 2018 to reach the planned $15/hr.

According to Minister of Labour Christina Gray, “All hard-working people deserve to earn enough money to support themselves and their families. Our government is staying true to our commitment to make life better for those Albertans who earn the bare minimum. This increase will boost the spending power of low-income people, which supports Alberta’s economic recovery.”  According to Edmonton Social Planning Council Executive Director Susan Morrissey  "Low-wage earners are predominantly female, over the age of 20 and employed in full-time permanent positions. Reducing poverty and income inequality is an important reason to stick with the commitment to increase the minimum wage to $15 in October 2018. Just as important is ensuring that low-income working Albertans are able to earn enough to pay for basic expenses."

According to the  Government of Alberta:
  • More than 292,000 Albertans earn less than $15 per hour.
  • More than 59 per cent of low-income earners are women.
  • Over half work full time and 79 per cent have permanent jobs.
  • Almost 40 per cent have children, meaning there are more than 115,000 working parents earning $15 per hour or less.
  • The main industries that employ minimum-wage and low-wage earners are accommodation and food services, retail trade and other services such as repair and maintenance.
  • The annual gross income for full-time minimum wage earners will rise to $28,288 from $25,376. The weekly minimum wage for some salespersons, land agents and other professionals will rise to $542 from $486. The monthly minimum wage for domestic employees who live in the employer’s residence will rise to $2,582 from $2,316.
  • Alberta continues to have the highest employment rate in Canada and the highest weekly earnings.
  • Retail sales in Alberta were at $6.8 billion in July 2017 – higher than the pre-recession peak of $6.7 billion in Oct. 2014.
  • Restaurant receipts reached a record high in July 2017, when Albertans spent $770 million at restaurants and bars across the province.
  • In 2016, private sector investment in Alberta was 2.5 times higher than the national average.
  • In the first seven months of 2017:
  • Alberta goods exports are up 40.1 per cent to $58.9 billion over the same period in 2016.
  • Alberta has exported more than $75 million worth of goods to 20 countries, up from 16 in 2016.
  • Alberta accounted for more than 55 per cent of Canada’s entire exports increase compared with the same period in 2016.
  • Alberta goods exports to the U.S. have increased over 44 per cent compared with the same seven months in 2016.

The Government of Alberta claims "low-wage Albertans have more money to spend on their basic needs, such as housing, transportation, school supplies, clothing and groceries. This increased spending power, in turn, helps stimulate our economy. Employers will also benefit from increased employee productivity and job satisfaction, as well as decreased turnover and training costs."

The United Conservative Party Caucus (UCP) "is urging the NDP government to press pause and release independent economic analysis that outlines the impact of this latest planned wage hike.  According to the UCP a $15 minimum wage could result in at least 15,000 job losses, would disproportionately affect teens and young adults and and recent immigrants, and would not be an effective way to alleviate poverty.  According to UCP Interim Leader Nathan Cooper, “In the face of mounting evidence that the rapid minimum wage increase will hurt, not help, Albertans, the NDP government is refusing to hit pause.  If common sense was used over ideology, the NDP would do the right thing, and not proceed with the minimum wage increase on Sunday.”  UCP Labour Critic Glenn van Dijken and Prab Gill said  “It would be entirely irresponsible for an increase to occur until the Premier publicly presents independent economic analysis.  Albertans have been through the ringer with the economic downturn. Calgary and Edmonton lead major cities in unemployment. Now is not the time to put ideology over evidence.”

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan said “First, I want to make it abundantly clear that I support increasing the minimum wage in order to help those who are struggling with poverty. Despite holding full-time or multiple part-time jobs, many lower-income Albertans still have trouble making ends meet. This needs to change, and increasing the minimum wage is one tool that is available to the government. However, continual minimum wage increases will undoubtedly have consequences for small business owners, who are also facing increased costs from the carbon tax and CPP premium increases scheduled for 2019 onwards."

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