St. John’s, NL:  The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour (NLFL) has been demanding that the province substantially increase its minimum wage this April 1st.  As NLFL President Mary Shortall pointed out, “Our province has the lowest minimum wage in all of Atlantic Canada and the second lowest in all of Canada.  Other provinces are taking steps to substantially increase their minimum wage.  It is time we did the same.”

 

Starting April 1st, both PEI and Nova Scotia are planning major increases to their minimum wage.  PEI’s minimum wage will rise 60 cents to $12.85 an hour, while Nova Scotia has just announced an increase of $1.  On April 1st, the new minimum wage for Nova Scotia will be $12.55.  Both provinces review the minimum wage annually and appointed advisory committees to provide their recommendations to government once the review is complete.

 

“This is great news for workers in our neighboring provinces and gives minimum wage workers here in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) hope, that our Government will adopt a comparable view.  We need a substantial increase to help lift workers out of poverty, help retain young people, help support local business and put more money into the local economy,” said Shortall.

Other jurisdictions have much higher minimum wages.  Currently Alberta has a minimum wage of $15, Ontario is $14 and BC is moving towards $15.20 by 2021.

 

Following recommendations from its Minimum Wage Review Committee, Nova Scotia has also decided to eliminate the lower minimum wage for inexperienced workers.  Currently Nova Scotia’s minimum wage is $11.55 per hour, and $11.05 for inexperienced workers.  The difference between inexperienced and experienced was three months.  The Committee recommended eliminating the inexperienced reduced rate due to potential misuse and possible violations.  The NLFL strongly opposes any tiered or exclusion to the minimum wage for any workers.

 

“Our province just completed a minimum wage review where we are strongly urging government to get to a $15 Minimum wage by 2022,” said Shortall.  “If we maintain the status quo of an annual CPI increase, then minimum wage workers in NL will fall even further behind.  If nothing is done, it will be devastating to the 13,200 minimum wage workers who find it difficult to make ends meet, pay their rent and purchase the basic necessities, as well as to the 70,000 workers in NL who earn less than $15.  We remain optimistic that the Government of NL will do the right thing by substantially increasing the minimum wage and making a commitment to ensure NL workers are provided a living wage.”