Labour relations Minister Darin King announced this afternoon that the minimum wage will be going up next October, and it’ll be going up again in 2015.
Starting next October, the minimum wage will go up by 25 cents to $10.25 per hour. Then, a year later, it will go up to $10.50.
What the government is implementing is nowhere near what was recommended in the 2012 Minimum Wage Review.
In that report, the review committee noted that there’s been no increase in the minimum wage since 2010, and the cost of living in Newfoundland and Labrador has gone up by quite a bit since then.
As a result, the committee recommended a minimum wage increase in 2013, and future minimum raises annually tied to the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation.
The government didn’t implement either of these recommendations.
Darin King, minister responsible for the Labour Relations Agency, said that they didn’t want to tack minimum wage to inflation because they didn’t want to tie the hands of future governments.
“We considered a number of factors,” he said “Obviously our primary goal is trying to strike a balance between what the employers can absorb and what’s good for the employees, and ultimately, that’s where we came down.”
But New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael wasn’t happy; she said it’s interesting that the 2015 minimum wage increase will happen less than two weeks before the general election date in that year.
“The timing of the annual increase certainly is questionable,” she said. “I mean, to me government should be making the decisions based on what was recommended by the committee, and this is so far off what was recommended, it’s disturbing.”
King said that there’s nothing shady about the timing of the minimum wage increases, and he said that the government wasn’t trying to dodge criticism by sending out the news release after 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon — typically a time reserved for bad news government announcements.
“It’s not bad news; it’s very good news in my opinion,” King said. “Frankly, Friday afternoon in this case is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is we’re going into the House of Assembly on Monday and I’m more than happy to stand and talk about this and debate it for as long as people want to debate it.”
Michael certainly seemed like she’ll take King up on the offer.
“The government has gone nowhere near what the recommendations were from the committee last year, so I’m really shocked how they are continuing to show how out of touch they are,” Michael said. “It just shows that they do not understand the needs of people who are working for $10 an hour.”
The government news release noted that by 2015, the province’s minimum wage will have gone up 75 per cent in the past 10 years. Only two jurisdictions have a minimum wage higher than $10.50 — Nunavut and the Yukon.
The Liberals did not respond to a request for comment as of deadline.
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