It's been six months since a review panel recommended an increase to the province's minimum wage, and critics of government are saying it's taking too long for them to make a decision.

Minimum wage hasn't gone up in three years, and NDP MHA Dale Kirby says minimum wage earners are being left behind by the province.

"It seems to me that this government is fairly one-sided in who it is they're listening to — they're clearly not listening to minimum wage earners," Kirby said.

Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest number of minimum wage workers than anywhere else in Canada.


NDP MHA Dale Kirby says the delay in the minimum wage increase is making life harder for some workers. (CBC)

Kirby said not increasing minimum wage is threatening the quality of life for those workers.

"We often hear government talking about how good it is, bragging about how good it is here in comparison to other places, how people here have it so good," he said.

"Well, minimum wage earners don't have it that good — a lot of those folks are struggling to get by and by keeping the minimum wage low, you're really keeping a lot of people out of the workforce."

Lana Payne, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, said the last increase was in 2010 — prior to the skyrocket in the cost of living in the province.

"We have a lot of people living in what is a very expensive jurisdiction in the country now and we have a lot of prosperity in our province, and we need to make sure that we're sharing it," he said.

Payne said government needs to act.

"It's time to do it. The time was years ago — I don't understand this delay," Payne said.

"And the more they delay, the more erosion is happening to people's wages. There's no excuse for it."

Time needed for adjustment

Richard Alexander, with the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers' Council, said the delay is beneficial because businesses are still adjusting to the impact of the large increases from 2010.


Richard Alexander of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers' Council says the delay is beneficial because employers are still adjusting to the enormous increase in minimum wage. (CBC)

"We think it's a good thing that government is taking its time before increasing minimum wage. We just had the single largest increase in minimum wage in the province's history — a 67 per cent increase in minimum wage between 2005 and 2010 — and that has had multiple negative impacts on our economy and minimum wage earners," Alexander said.

"It's important that government allow the economy and allow the workplace to adjust to the massive increase."

Alexander said that while the province has the most minimum wage earners anywhere in the country, most employers choose not to pay minimum wage.

"I think it's important for people to understand that the majority of employers in this province do not pay minimum wage — they pay much higher."

A statement by Justice Minister Darin King, who is responsible for labour relations, said government is still reviewing the matter and a decision will be coming at a later date.