NDP calls for $15 minimum wage for P.E.I. in 2019

P.E.I.’s NDP leader Joe Byrne challenged the province’s premier to come up with a plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2019.

Economic prosperity not reaching those in need, says Byrne

Alberta raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour Oct. 1. The leader of the NDP on P.E.I. is asking that province's premier to do the same. (Kerry Campbell/CBC)

P.E.I.'s NDP leader Joe Byrne challenged the province's premier to come up with a plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2019.

At a media conference Wednesday, Byrne said at the current level of $11.55 an hour, a single parent would have to work 60 hours a week just to lift them and their child out of poverty.

"There is just not enough work available in the run of a year to pay your bills," Byrne said, calling P.E.I.'s minimum "much, much lower than what people need to live on."

Highest in the region

P.E.I.'s minimum wage rose to $11.55 from $11.25 on April 1, 2018, and is currently the highest in Atlantic Canada.

However some provinces made significant increases in their minimum wages in 2018, with Ontario moving up to $14 an hour — set to rise to $15 in 2019— and Alberta hitting the $15 mark on Oct. 1. 

Leader of the P.E.I. NDP Joe Byrne notes Ontario saw a net increase in jobs within six months of boosting its minimum wage to $14. He's calling for P.E.I. to move to $15 an hour next year. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Byrne pointed to Ontario's example, where six months after the boost to minimum wage, unemployment reached its lowest point in almost two decades. Byrne said that showed that rather than suffer job losses, P.E.I. would see an economic boost from a higher minimum wage, with workers having more money to spend.

He said increasing the minimum wage would also help spread around the benefits of the province's recent strong economic performance.

"The economy is working well for some but it's not working well for people who are living in poverty," said Byrne.

Byrne said if the NDP were to form government, the party would immediately increase the minimum wage to $15, and come up with a plan for a further boost to $17 an hour within four years.

No word on further increases

The P.E.I. Labour Relations Board recently concluded annual public consultations on the province's minimum wage.

There's been no word yet on any further increases.

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