Manitoba's minimum wage to rise to $11.35 in October

Minimum wage will rise 20 cents in October, the province announced on Wednesday.

20 cent per hour hike not enough to provide living wage, argues NDP leader

Manitoba's minimum wage rises to $11.35 on Oct. 1, 2018. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

Minimum wage workers in Manitoba will get an hourly pay raise this fall.

The province announced Wednesday that minimum wage will rise to $11.35 on Oct. 1, up from the current $11.15, said Blaine Pedersen, minister of growth, enterprise and trade.

"Last year we passed legislation to index minimum wage with the rate of inflation," said Pedersen in a statement. 

"We are improving wages for working Manitobans and providing predictability for businesses that create jobs and generate growth in our economy."

The 20-cent adjustment is based on the 2017 inflation rate for the province, which was 1.6 per cent, and then rounded up to the nearest five cents.

NDP calls for $15/hour minimum

During question period in the legislature on Wednesday, Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew said the increase is not enough to provide a living wage and called on the Progressive Conservative government to introduce a $15 per hour minimum wage.

"I understand that to get to $15 an hour here, that that has to take place over time, but I think there should be a tangible plan to bring the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Manitoba," Kinew said in an interview.

If elected in 2020, Kinew said the NDP would raise the minimum wage by $1 per year until reaching $15 per hour.

Premier Brian Pallister responded in question period by saying the NDP has a history taking money away, referencing the decision to apply the PST to home insurance and raising taxes while the party was in power.

"This is not how you leave more money in the pockets of Manitobans," Pallister said, pointing to his own government's move to raise the basic personal tax exemption in the latest budget as a better approach.

"Raising the basic personal exemption by $2,020 in 2020 does leave a significant amount of money in the hands of working Manitobans and seniors," he said.

The basic personal exemption will rise to $11,402 by 2020, a total increase of $2,020. 

That change will save the average Manitoba taxpayer $12 this year, with the savings climbing to $109 per year in 2019 and 2020.

Kinew argued a minimum wage hike would be more effective than a change to the basic personal exemption.

"If somebody is earning minimum wage, a minimum wage increase of, say, a dollar a year is going to put hundreds of dollars a year in their pocket, whereas the change to the personal exemption would put a few dozen dollars per year in their pocket," he said.

The PCs drew heavy criticism in 2016 when they chose not the raise the minimum wage after forming government. The previous NDP government had raised the minimum wage each year it was in power.

In 2017, minimum wage was raised from $11 an hour to $11.15.

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With files from Cameron MacLean