The Edmonton Social Planning Council (ESPC) called today’s announcement of a freeze in the province’s minimum wage a backward step.
“Two years ago, the provincial government took the politics out of setting the minimum wage by tying it to changes in the average weekly earnings of Albertans,” said Susan Morrissey, the ESPC’s Executive Director. “This is a transparent way of ensuring that the wages of Alberta’s most vulnerable low income workers keep pace with those of other Albertans.”
Morrissey noted that the government has provided no evidence that retaining the link to the average weekly earnings index would hurt employers. “According to Statistics Canada, the average weekly earnings index increased only 1.4% in the most recent twelve month period. This would have translated into a 12 cent per hour increase in the minimum wage, which is certainly affordable even in today’s economic climate.”
Alberta’s minimum wage ranks only sixth among all provinces. “A single parent of two children working 40 hour per week at minimum wage for the full year would have an income more than $9,000 below the poverty line,” Morrissey emphasized.
“The ESPC is not opposed to an all-party review of the minimum wage. But there is no need to impose a freeze in the meantime. I urge the provincial government to reverse this backward decision,” Morrissey concluded.
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