The NDP government’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour is about to hit another milestone.
On Saturday, wages in Alberta are set to rise to $12.20 an hour.
Speaking at a news conference in Edmonton on Wednesday, Labour Minister Christina Gray said critics are oversimplifying the minimum wage debate.
“Minimum wage earners are not, as some critics have said, just teenagers taking short term jobs to make a little spending money while living at home. The majority are women and three-quarters are twenty years or older. Over 75 per cent of them have permanent jobs and roughly two-thirds have been in the same job for more than a year.”
Gray said there are lot of positive effects to bringing in a higher minimum wage.
“We also know that from talking to business owners that paying a higher wage leads to lower turnover as well as higher employee satisfaction. This mean employers can reduce their recruitment and training expenses and can benefit from employees who are more experienced and knowledgable.”
In favour of the wage hike plan is the owner of Kunitz Shoes, Dwane Kunitz. He said investments like this lead to better results down the line.
“If we expect an employee to respect their job, we need to respect the employee. This begins with paying a living wage. To not do so is to say that an employee is worth less than a job we expect them to perform.”
Gray said grants and other options are available for small businesses worried about the bottom line.
“We’re taking these actions while we also support low wage Albertans and ensure that they’re able to make a decent living wage and not have to stop at the food bank.”
The province’s goal is to hit a minimum wage of $15 an hour by 2018. (djs/qr)