NDP leader calls for action as N.L. falls to lowest minimum wage in country

On Oct. 1, four provinces raise their minimum wages, leaving Newfoundland and Labrador paying out $10.50 an hour, the lowest national rate.

Saskatchewan surpasses Newfoundland and Labrador on Oct. 1 with slight wage increase

As of Oct. 1 minimum wage in Newfoundland and Labrador is the lowest in all of Canada, a statistic that has the province's NDP party calling for change. (Gary Locke/CBC)

As of Saturday morning, Newfoundland and Labrador will have the lowest minimum wage in Canada, a statistic NDP leader Earle McCurdy says is unacceptable.

Legislation to raise the minimum wage comes into effect on Oct. 1 in four provinces: Ontario, Alberta, P.E.I. and Saskatchewan. As Saskatchewan moves from $10.50 per hour to $10.72, that increase leaves N.L. at the bottom of the pile nationally, stagnant at $10.50.

"Quite frankly, that's not good enough," McCurdy told a group of reporters on Friday.

"I believe low-wage workers in this province are better than that, and I don't think they should accept that."

The province's minimum wage has seen a slight increase from $10 an hour since 2010, with the last 25 cent increase taking place in September 2015. Meanwhile, food prices have risen by a much higher rate, McCurdy said.

While canvassing in his St. John's West district, the NDP leader says he met people struggling with "serious erosions in their real incomes" over the last few years.

Earle McCurdy meets with people prior to a press conference at Memorial University, where he called on the provincial government to raise the minimum wage. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Raising wage is the answer, McCurdy says

According to Statistics Canada, 51.5 per cent of minimum wage earners are over 24 years of age, while 66.3 per cent were women.

The provincial government is supposed to review the wage every two years, but hasn't been keeping up to its responsibility, McCurdy said.

"It's time for the government to do something. I call on them to immediately act to increase the minimum wage."

The NDP campaigned on a promise to make two 50 cent increases in 2016, and make further increases over the next four years to reach a living wage.

McCurdy said he doesn't believe the increases would hurt local businesses, even in a slumping economy.

After all, it's hard to spend money when you don't have any.

"How are people going to spend money in the economy, when they haven't got any money in their pocket to spend?"