Minimum wage increase 'a killer' for small businesses

Nova Scotia's minimum wage is increasing by 10 cents to $10.40 on April 1.

Pay increases to $10.40 an hour on April 1

Small business owners, like Victor Fineberg of the Hali Deli on Agricola Street in Halifax, says any wage increase is hard. (

Nova Scotia's minimum wage is increasing by 10 cents to $10.40 on April 1.

Small business owners, like Victor Fineberg of the Hali Deli on Agricola Street in Halifax, says any wage increase is hard.

“It's a killer, every penny is a killer,” he said.

Fineberg said some business owners will respond by working more themselves and cutting staff hours. He also questions just how much the increase benefits minimum wage earners.

“How much of that do they get to keep? When they earn 10 cents more an hour I'm sure they end up paying a few more cents in taxes. So the net gain is not [that] much,” he said.

For minimum wage earners like 22-year-old Conor Cheney, making ends meet is tough and any increase in pay helps.

"Just enough to get by, pretty much," he said.

Cheney shares an apartment with two other minimum wage earners. But even then his $500 portion of the rent is a big chunk of his take home pay.

Jennifer English, with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the province could ease the pain for small businesses by increasing the basic personal exemption — the amount made before people must pay taxes.

In Nova Scotia, that's just under $8,500. It hasn't changed since 2011 and is the third lowest in the country.

“If we saw an increase in the basic personal exemption then low income earners would be bringing more money home, paying less in taxes to the provincial government and then we wouldn't be putting the burden on small business owners for this annual increase," said English.

The CFIB also plans to push the province for a tip differential minimum wage where those who work in licensed establishments and make tips can be paid slightly less.

The Department of Labour announced the increase on Friday. It said the jump is tied to the cost of living.

The minimum wage for someone with less than three months experience is going up to $9.90 per hour.

The province's move comes a day after Ontario announced it will raise its minimum wage to $11 per hour.

Minimum wage rates are based on the previous year's national Consumer Price Index. They are adjusted annually. 


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