Modest minimum wage raise has many Maritime workers wanting more
Published Saturday, April 1, 2017 6:53PM ADT
Tens of thousands of Maritimers who make minimum wage got a raise on Saturday, but they're hardly dancing in the street about it.
Prince Edward Island has the highest hourly rate at $11.25, New Brunswick at $11, and Newfoundland and Labrador at $10.75, which will increase to $11 this fall.
Nova Scotia has a two-tiered rate – $10.85 for experienced workers and $10.35 for workers with less than three months experience.
“I still don't think it's enough to live … in a decent part of town, to be able to buy groceries, to live on your own,” says Halifax restaurant employee Andrew Denton.
“Look at the price of groceries, those people out there with families trying to get by on minimum wage jobs and they have children going to school," says Halifax resident Debbie Mitchell.
Among those who work at minimum wage are students, who also learn in sociology class that a real living wage is much higher.
“The living wage in Halifax is almost $20/hour,” says student Casey Bellemore. “Throughout Nova Scotia it's $15/hour, even if the areas where it's much cheaper to live."
The minimum wage increases take place on April 1 in all four Atlantic provinces. The idea was to create less confusion and paperwork for businesses operating in more than one province.
Restaurant owner Phil Perrin says minimum wage is competitive from an employer’s point of view.
“There's lots of good people that are working for minimum wage,” Perrin says. “Mostly they don't have a choice, in my experience. I don't think you have a problem finding good people if you look hard enough."
Perrin says he believes in paying people more.
“I know I pay more than most, and I don't do it for any reason other than I feel it's right," he says.
But other small employers, who didn’t want to appear on camera, say minimum wage is all they can afford.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ron Shaw.