Minimum wage increasing to $10.30 on Wednesday
Starting Dec. 31, lowest paid workers in the province will make more than those in P.E.I., B.C. and Alberta
Thousands of New Brunswickers are poised to get a raise in time to raise a glass for the new year.
On Wednesday, the provincial minimum wage will increase from $10 an hour to $10.30, one of the biggest jumps in years.
Right now, New Brunswick is tied with the Northwest Territories for lowest wages in Canada. Starting Dec. 31, the lowest paid workers in the province will make more than those in P.E.I., B.C. and Alberta.
The increase is the first step in a Liberal government’s election promise to bring New Brunswick wages more in step with the rest of the country.
The highest wages right now are in Nunavut and Ontario where the lowest paid make $11 an hour. The Liberals vow to be at that rate by 2017.
While workers rejoice, small business owners are less enthusiastic.
Mike Babineau is the part owner of two restaurants in downtown Fredericton. He says increasing the pay to his 50 employees will hurt.
“It does affect our bottom line, big time,” he said. “A 30 cent increase is probably going to cost us close to $20,000 a year, just at one location, not to mention our other restaurant, so it does have an impact for sure.”
Government should look at other options
Michael Hopper, owner of Second Spin Records doesn’t see the increase as a negative for small business.
“Any time that minimum wage goes up, for local shops it's a good thing,” he said. “I think it benefits the uptown economy. It benefits the people that work there. I believe it's a good thing.”
Tony’s Music Box owner Michael George doesn’t agree with paying workers the bare minimum.
“Because we offer a certain expertise to our customers, there's value in that,” he said. “I need to reward my employees with that.”
Babineau says he does think workers should earn more than $10 but with the new increase he'd like to see government start to look at other options like a two-tiered minimum wage system, or more tax breaks for small business.
“If you talk to anybody in the industry, you've seen a steady decline in the restaurant business industry,” he said. “Something has got to give here and I think the government should really take a look at that soon.”