Alberta is raising its minimum wage next week, but the province’s lowest-income earners will still be the worst-paid in Canada, according to the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFOL).
As of Sept. 1, the general minimum wage will increase from $9.75 to $9.95. The minimum wage for liquor servers will remain at $9.05.
Alberta’s minimum wage increases automatically each year under a formula that links the minimum wage to the cost of living.
If a minimum wage worker puts in 35 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, he will earn $18,109 a year before taxes, the AFOL says. This is less than the low-income cut-off (LICO), the official poverty line that Statistics Canada defines as $23,298. A rate of $14.05 without benefits, or $12.08 with benefits, would be required for someone working full-time at minimum wage to get beyond that poverty line, the Federation says.
“The Government’s plan to make annual inflation-based increases to the minimum wage has a lot of merit. The problem is that they started doing so only after many years in which they’d allowed inflation to greatly outpace the minimum wage,” McGowan said. “So when they started with the annual increases, the minimum wage was way, way, way too low for Alberta’s economy.”
In today’s dollars, Alberta’s minimum wages were significantly higher in the late 1970s than they are now. Accounting for inflation, the minimum wage of $3 in 1977 had the equivalent buying power of more than $11 today, the AFL says.
“Almost 30,000 Albertans earn the provincial minimum wage. This is a pressing issue to every one of them,” McGowan said. “Almost half of these workers are over the age of 24, and nearly half work these jobs full-time.”
According to government estimates, 1.8 per cent of Alberta’s 1,642,400 are earning minimum wage. More than 72 per cent of Albertans who earn minimum wage are women, the AFOL claims.
Minimum wage across the country is as follows:
• British Columbia — $10.25 an hour
• Manitoba — $10.25 an hour
• New Brunswick — $10 an hour
• Newfoundland — $10 an hour
• Northwest Territories — $10 an hour
• Nova Scotia — $10.30 an hour
• Nunavut — $11 an hour
• Ontario — $10.25 an hour
• Prince Edward Island — $10 an hour
• Quebec — $10.15 an hour
• Saskatchewan — $10 an hour
• Yukon Territory — $10.54 an hour
Canadian Payroll Reporter maintains a comprehensive overview of the legislated minimum wage in each province on its site at http://www.payroll-reporter.com/articleview/17197
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