Tiny minimum wage increase won't cut it, Federation of Labour says

The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour says a living wage policy is a better solution to our province's poverty issues.
Newfoundland and Labrador's minimum wage is the lowest in Canada. (Paul Sakuma/Associated Press)

The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour says a living wage policy is a better choice for lower-income workers than just raising the minimum wage.

"There are pockets of people in our province who are very negatively impacted and are having a real hard time making ends meet," federation president Mary Shortall said Thursday. 

"There really is a need for a substantial increase of minimum wage here."

We take a look at minimum wage in this province, including who's making it and how much it needs to increase for people to earn a living wage. 7:57

Gerry Byrne, minister of advanced education, skills and labour, said earlier this week that the province's minimum wage would be going up within the coming months, and that the department is holding consultations on the issue.

"There is very, very strong support for minimum wage being tied to some sort of predictable forwardly thinking economic indicator, such as an inflationary index," said Byrne.

Federation of Labour president Mary Shortall is advocating for a living wage policy in the province. (Ted Dillion/CBC)

"But it is not universal as to what that index should be."

The Federation of Labour suggests the living wage model, in which wages would be based on how much it costs a typical family in a particular town to live.  

Not keeping pace with cost of living

The federation's argument is that increases to the minimum wage have not kept pace with the cost of living, which means more people are relying on the province for assistance

Gerry Byrne, minister of advanced education, skills and labour says the Liberal government is going to be increasing minimum wage. (CBC)

"That's been a campaign right across the country to talk about what exactly do you need to pay people to allow families and children [to] not just escape poverty and financial stress, but to actually have a healthy development," Shortall told CBC Radio's Central Morning Show.

There really is a need for a substantial increase of minimum wage here.- Mary Shortall, Federation of Labour

Right now Newfoundland and Labrador has the lowest minimum wage in the country, at $10.50 per hour.

There's been a 50-cent increase over the last six years.

About six per cent of the population earns minimum wage, and women represent a majority of those workers.

Just under half of the people who earn minimum wage are aged 15 to 24.

With files from the Central Morning Show