Manitoba

Manitoba minimum wage increases but advocate says it isn't enough

Manitobans earning minimum wage will their paycheques grow, as the province's minimum wage will increase by 30 cents to $11.65 per hour, as of Oct. 1. But an anti-poverty advocate says it will not translate into more money in people's pockets.

Wage will rise from $11.35 per hour to $11.65 per hour as of Oct. 1

Manitoba's minimum wage will increase by 30 cents on Oct. 1. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Manitobans earning minimum wage will their paycheques grow, as the province's minimum wage will increase by 30 cents to $11.65 per hour, as of Oct. 1. But an anti-poverty advocate says it will not translate into more money in people's pockets.

Josh Brandon says the increase won't make much of a difference, as it keeps pace with inflation.

"Basically $11.35 an hour last year, pretty much buys you about exactly what $11.65 will buy you this year," Brandon told CBC News. "It just keeps workers treading water."

When the increase was announced in a media release last March, Manitoba's Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen boasted that the increase "will help our economy continue to attract new investment and participation in the workforce."

However, the 30-cent adjustment was based on the province's 2018 inflation rate of 2.5 cents, rounded up to the nearest five cents.

"Workers in Manitoba are working hard, and low-wage workers are working extra hard, because they are often having to take extra shifts to make ends meet," said Brandon, adding that increasing rent and food prices are not helping that struggle.

"We need to make sure that every worker finds that their job is a path out of poverty, it shouldn't be keeping you in poverty."

Brandon says the stereotype that minimum wage workers are young people living at home, or people trying to earn an extra buck, is wrong. In reality, he says, it's a diverse demographic that consists of mostly adults over the age of 20, as well as families.

Ontario has a minimum wage of $14 per hour, while Alberta's is even higher at $15 an hour. Brandon says that's where Manitoba should be aiming, because those are closer to living wages.

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