A call by the NDP to boost Nova Scotia's minimum wage to $15 an hour over three years, is being rejected by Premier Stephen McNeil, who says there are more effective ways to assist people with lower incomes.

The legislature's third party introduced legislation Tuesday that would boost the minimum wage in increments from the current $10.70 cents an hour.

McNeil said although he realizes there is a debate on the effectiveness of such a move, he believes the proposed increase would produce inflationary pressures that would be felt by small businesses and other workers.

"Instead of that minimum wage being increased and inflation eating it up, I think basic personal exemption is what we need to be looking at, which means we will leave more money in the pockets of low-income Nova Scotians," said McNeil.

However, McNeil wouldn't commit to an increase in the income tax measure any time soon, saying the province would have to get back to fiscal health first.

Small businesses would be exempted

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the time to move is now in order to help the 130,000 Nova Scotia workers who would benefit from a wage increase.

Burrill said increasing the minimum wage would stimulate the economy because it would improve the buying power of lower income workers.

He said McNeil's argument is insulting to workers who are struggling.

"Our problem in the Nova Scotia economy at the moment ... is not inflation. Our problem is that people do not have enough to live [on] and that's what a $15 minimum wage addresses."

Burrill said the NDP would exempt small- and family-operated businesses from the increase while large corporations would foot the bill.