Nova Scotia’s minimum wage — currently the lowest in Canada — is going up, with the province’s labour minister saying the pay hike will help workers and their families.
The increase will see the provincial base pay rise to $11.55 on April 1, followed by increases of about 55 cents a year for the next three years.
The province’s minimum wage is currently $11, close to Statistics Canada’s low-income cut-off threshold — a calculation based on the cost of food, shelter and clothing.
The pay raise is based on recommendations by the Minimum Wage Review Committee, which Labour Minister Labi Kousoulis accepted Tuesday.
He says the pay increase will help minimum wage earners while providing businesses a three-year outlook so they can plan ahead.
The minimum wage is also expected to rise to about $12.10 in April 2020 and $12.65 in April 2021. Starting April 1, 2022, the rate will be adjusted annually based on the Bank of Canada’s Consumer Price Index.
According to Statistics Canada, 6.6 per cent of employees in Nova Scotia earned minimum wage during the period of April 2016 to March 2017.
Minimum wage earners work primarily in retail, restaurant and accommodation industries, and most are part-time workers under the age of 25.
In addition to the general minimum wage rate, Nova Scotia also has an “inexperienced” minimum wage set at 50 cents less.
The 55-cent increases reflect a 30-cent “adjustment” plus inflation, projected to be 25 cents over the next three years.
Minimum wages across the country are currently highest in Alberta, set at $15 an hour, followed by Ontario, which has a general minimum wage of $14.
In Atlantic Canada, P.E.I. currently has the highest minimum wage of $11.55, followed by $11.25 in New Brunswick and $11.15 in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Minimum wage workers in Nova Scotia will be paid $11.50 an hour as of April 1, and the wage will increase by about 55 cents each year for the next three years.
The labour minister accepted the recommendations of the Minimum Wage Review Committee to the chagrin of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, despite the fact Nova Scotia has the lowest minimum wage in the country.
“Any time there are significant increases in the wage floor, small businesses are challenged to adapt to higher costs,” said Jordi Morgan, the Atlantic vice-president for CFIB in a news release. “Not only does this increase costs for entry level positions, minimum wage increases put additional upward pressure on other wages in a business and of course it means higher payroll taxes as well.”
“If there is a silver lining here it is some predictability over the next three years, but it doesn’t take the sting out of a mandatory increase for those already running on tight margins,” added Morgan.
“We’re pleased to see the Nova Scotia government has not chosen an arbitrary, politically motivated increase as we’ve seen in other provinces, but it sure doesn’t make life easier for small business owners,” he said.