Report calls for N.S. minimum wage to be raised to $12.65 by 2021
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Tuesday, December 4, 2018 6:28PM AST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 5, 2018 3:53PM AST
HALIFAX -- A review committee says Nova Scotia's minimum wage -- the country's lowest -- should be raised 55 cents annually for the next three years.
The total increase of $1.65 would see the minimum wage increased from $11 to $12.65 an hour by 2021.
The recommendation is contained in a report released Tuesday by the province's Minimum Wage Review Committee that also says the formula used to calculate the rate should be changed.
Nova Scotia currently has the lowest minimum wage in the country, while Alberta has the highest at $15 an hour.
Labour Minister Labi Kousoulis is to make a decision on the minimum wage in January.
According to Statistics Canada, 6.6 per cent of Nova Scotia employees earned minimum wage between April 2016 and March 2017 -- with most under the age of 25 and working part-time, primarily in the retail trade, followed by the food and accommodation sector.
NDP Leader Gary Burrill expressed disappointment with the committee's recommendations.
"The growing consensus in Canada is that a $15 minimum wage is necessary to ensure people have enough money to put food on the table and heat their homes," Burrill said in a statement.
"Unfortunately, under the increases proposed today, we will be nowhere near that number even by 2021."
He said it was "absurd" that under the proposal minimum wage earners in Nova Scotia would be making less in three years than those in Ontario, Alberta, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories are making today.
"Our economy cannot succeed without the improved purchasing power that a $15 minimum wage would provide," Burrill said.
During the fall session of the legislature, the New Democrats introduced legislation that would increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2020.
The review committee report said the province's minimum wage is set by regulations which provide a mechanism for adjusting it by the annual national inflation rate.
That calculation is done in part on what Statistics Canada considers the low-income cut off (LICO). Under the formula, a full-time employee earning minimum wage and working 2,000 hours a year would be at the cut off.
But the committee pointed out that the average work week for full-time employees in Nova Scotia is 37 hours, meaning some employees aren't reaching the LICO.
"The committee believes LICO is still a rational approach to establishing a fair minimum wage for employees; however, it believes the calculations for setting the rate at LICO should properly reflect accurate data regarding an average work week," the report says.