The minimum wage in Alberta is on the rise, by a dollar an hour. The new $8-an-hour wage will take effect Sept. 1.

Premier Ed Stelmach announced the wage boost on Thursday, the last day of the spring session of the legislature.

The new rateranks Alberta with Manitoba, Ontario, Quebecand British Columbia for the highest minimum wage among provinces.

The territories have the highest minimum wages in Canada, with Nunavut at $8.50 an hour, the Northwest Territories at $8.25 and the Yukon at $8.37.

Before the hike, Alberta was tied with New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador for the lowest minimum wage in the country, at$7 an hour.

Stelmach says the government chose the newwage after consulting several groups.

But the opposition says the new wage is still too low.

Liberal Opposition Leader Kevin Taft says it's a "bit of a stretch" for the premier to be calling the wage hike a "bold" move, considering the huge rent increases many Albertans are facing.

New Democrat Ray Martin says a more suitable minimum wage would be at least$10 an hour because of the cost of living in Alberta.

Less than two per cent of Alberta's workers earn minimum wage.

Wage will be adjusted annually

Stelmach also announced that the minimum wage will be adjusted each April, starting in 2008.

"We'll also increase it based on Alberta's average weekly wage increases, so we'll monitor that, and it will be automatic every year, so we don't have to play catch-up."

Further details on the annual adjustments were expected Friday afternoon.