Yukon Nominee Program wages rise to $15/hour

The starting wage for front counter workers under the Yukon Nominee Program rose from $11.75 to $15 an hour last month. The president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce says that could mean higher costs to customers.

'There wasn't any advanced notice,' says Yukon Education Minister Elaine Taylor

Education minister Elaine Taylor says Employment and Social Development Canada raised wages without any notice to the Yukon Government. (CBC)

The starting wage for “quick-service restaurant” workers under the Yukon Nominee Program rose from $11.75 to $15 an hour last month.

Yukon employers use the program to hire foreign workers to fill labour shortages.

Rick Karp, president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, says the wage hike will force employers to raise the wages of all their staff, and that will mean higher costs for customers.

"If we're willing to pay a lot more for a hamburger or a cup of coffee, maybe double what we're paying now, then by all means. But that's not a practical way of doing things."

The chamber is asking the department responsible for the nominee program to address the issue.

Education Minister Elaine Taylor says the decision comes from Employment and Social Development Canada.

"There wasn't any advanced notice to my understanding," Taylor says. "Certainly no discussion with the Yukon Government on this change."

She plans to meet with ESDC, industry and the Yukon Bureau of Statistics later this month to determine if the information used to set the wage increase reflects Yukon's current labour market conditions.

The Chamber of Commerce is asking Ottawa for three months to look at the idea.

Karp says the wage hike could mean nominees hired as food counter attendants could be getting paid a higher starting wage than existing employees with more experience.

He’d rather the wage reflect the territory’s average starting pay for this job category.

“This has a very large impact on the cost of labour for any business."