The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is expressing disappointment with news that the minimum wage in Saskatchewan will increase by 20 cents, to $10.20, effective Oct. 1.
According to Prairie Vice-President of the CFIB, Marilyn Braun-Pollon, the increase will hurt the retail and hospitality industries the most.
Braun-Pollon said her organization advocated for measures that would have eased the impact on those sectors. The CFIB suggested Saskatchewan adopt a training wage for inexperienced workers or a gratuity wage applied to workers who earn tips.
Some jurisdictions in Canada include variations of those types of wages.
Braun-Pollon was also unhappy with Saskatchewan's move to tie future minimum wage increases to inflation.
"It assumes affordability every year and does not reflect current market conditions," Braun-Pollon noted in a news release.
"Minimum wage is a blunt tool to address poverty and help low-income earners," the release added. "CFIB has always advocated for the government to focus on more practical and effective ways to help low-income earners, such as providing additional income tax relief and training opportunities."
Larry Hubich, the president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, was not impressed with the CFIB's position, calling the group's concern an "over-the-top complaint".
"It's only a $1.50 more a day," Hubich noted, pointing out that the last minimum wage hike was more than two years ago.
"Gas has gone up more a litre than the 20 cents an hour minimum wage is being increased," he said.
Hubich said he often hears business leaders expressing great pleasure with how Saskatchewan's overall economy is doing and how wages in various industries are increasing. He said he cannot understand why people then turn around and complain about an increase to the minimum wage.
"People who earn minimum wage spend all their earnings in community where they earn that money," Hubich added. "So increasing the minimum wage stimulates the local economy, because all that money is recycled back into community."
Hubich also supports the move to indexing the minimum wage, but would have preferred having it tied to a percentage of industrial wages rather than an inflation formula.
[The chart below shows minimum wages either currently in effect, as of April 1, 2014, or scheduled to take effect later in 2014 or 2015.]