Nfld. & Labrador

Minimum-wage hike step in the right direction, but $15 would be better, say workers

Minimum-wage earners say the provincial government's recent promise to boost the wage to $12.65 still won't be enough to make ends meet.

Provincial government has promised a series of increases to bring the wage to $12.65 by October 2021

Shane Pope, a student at Memorial University, works for minimum wage while finishing a degree in social work. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

The provincial government's recent promise to give the wage a bump the minimum wage to $12.65 an hour over the next year and a half still won't be enough, people who earn the figure tell CBC News.

"I think we need a living wage, not an increase to minimum wage," said Shane Pope, a social work student at Memorial University who holds a part-time job as a barista.

The provincial government Friday promised a series of increases to begin in April and end in October 2021. 

At that point the minimum wage will be at least $12.65 — more depending on the national consumer price index — up from the current $11.40 an hour. 

According to the advocacy group $15 and Fairness, 70,000 people in the province currently earn less than $15 an hour. The group says $18.85 an hour would be the minimum needed to earn a living wage in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

The provincial government is raising the province's minimum wage to $12.65 by October 2021, up from its current $11.40. (Shane Gibson/CBC)

Pope says he has to make tough decisions about what he spends his money on. 

"I'm not able to pay car insurance because I have to pay rent, buy food, buying a bus pass and things like that," he said.

The CBC spoke to several people waiting for a bus Monday morning. Some said they make more than minimum wage but agree the increase should be bigger. Others noted it's necessary to have at least two incomes in every household to make ends meet. 

"If my fiancé wasn't working, we wouldn't do it. Not with $800 a month in rent, and then your lights is top notch and then your groceries," a woman who declined to give her name told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

"$12.65 is not enough either. I'd say $15 would probably do it, help a lot of people."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Adam Walsh

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