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Yukon set to slip in minimum wage rankings, gov't asks for review

Yukon's minimum wage is currently $11.32 per hour, the sixth highest in Canada — but soon to drop to seventh as other jurisdictions boost theirs.

Employment Standards Board asked to conduct the review, make recommendations later this year

Yukon's minimum wage is currently $11.32 per hour, the sixth highest in Canada. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

The Yukon government has asked for a review of the territory's minimum wage, as the territory is about to drop in the rankings among provinces and territories.

Community Services Minister John Streicker has asked the Employment Standards Board to conduct the review, and make recommendations to the government later this year.

Yukon's minimum wage is currently $11.32 per hour, the sixth highest in Canada.

It will rise by 19 cents on April 1, based on the consumer price index. That is an annual adjustment to the minimum wage and the new review will not affect that, the government says.

According to Streicker, most other provinces and territories have raised or announced plans to raise their minimum wage in the past year. He says by May, Yukon will drop to seventh place among Canadian jurisdictions.

According to the Yukon anti-poverty coalition, the 'living wage' for Whitehorse is $18.26 per hour. That's how much each working parent in a typical family of four would need to make to pay for housing, food, clothing, and other basic needs. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

Yukon's minimum wage is also well below what's considered a "living wage," as calculated by the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition. In September, the coalition said a typical family of two working parents with two young children in Whitehorse would need each parent to make at least $18.26 per hour to pay for housing, food, clothing and other basic needs. 

"Our government believes it is time for a review of Yukon's wage to ensure it remains competitive within the national context and balances the needs of both employers and their employees," Streicker said in a statement.

Six years since last review

The last review was done in 2012, and resulted in a $1.03 per hour increase on top of the annual consumer price index adjustment.

The review is expected to take about six months. The Employment Standards Board will study trends across Canada, and consult with Yukon businesses and labour organizations before making any recommendations to government.

Yukon has the lowest minimum wage among the territories. N.W.T.'s is now at $12.50 per hour and will increase to $13.46 on April 1. Nunavut is now at $13.00 per hour, and its minimum wage is also adjusted annually in April.

B.C.'s is now just three cents more than Yukon's — $11.35 per hour — but will rise to $12.65 in June.

Ontario now has the highest minimum wage in Canada, at $14.00 per hour, followed by Alberta at $13.60. It's set to increase to $15.00 per hour in both provinces — in October for Alberta, and January for Ontario.

During the last Yukon election campaign, in 2016, the NDP promised to raise the territory's minimum wage to $15.00 as well, before the next election.