The Newfoundland and Labrador government is coming under renewed pressure to raise the minimum wage, largely so low-income earners can deal with spikes in the cost of living.
"I think it's just scandalous that the minimum wage hasn't gone up since three years ago," said CUPE representative Wayne Lucas, who said the $10 wage established in July 2010 is overdue for an update.
"You ask yourself, if you're trying to keep a home, if you're putting gas in your car, you got to buy groceries, especially this time of year if you are putting your kids back to school — $10 an hour just doesn't cut it," Lucas said.
Student Meaghan Barnhill said costs continue to mount for basic expenses, and employers need to keep pace.
"I have to work a second job just to get by, to make sure I can afford an education, to make sure I can afford the food I do eat and my rent and utilities," she said.
Last year, an official review of the minimum wage recommended that the Newfoundland and Labrador government raise the minimum wage in 2013, but with six months' notice to employers. A precise increase was not specified.
The review committee also recommended tying the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index, starting in 2014.
Obligation to act: NDP
To date, the government has made no decisions on that advice, to the consternation of NDP critic Dale Kirby.
"Why would government appoint a panel, ask for them to make recommendations and then to sit on them for such a lengthy period of time?" Kirby told CBC News.
"That's something that they have to be asked and that's something that they have to justify."
But the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers' Council says there is no rush to raise the minimum wage, since it had been increased by 67 per cent between 2005 and 2010.
"It was a massive increase," said executive director Richard Alexander, adding that rising labour costs can also drive up the cost of living for all.
"We've seen an increase in the price of goods and services. So, the cost of higher wages gets passed on to consumers," he said.
The council maintains that a stable minimum wage is good for job creation.
area where we've seen an impact is the number of minimum wage earners employed. We've seen employers create less of those jobs as a result of minimum wage increases."
The Employers' Council wants the government to put a cap on minimum wage increases.