A Nova Scotia labour advocate is calling for change, after the province hiked its minimum wage for experienced workers by 15 cents to $11 per hour effective April 1.
“We don’t believe it’s enough,” said Danny Cavanagh, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, of the modest increase.
“The way Nova Scotia looks at minimum wage needs to change.”
The province previously had the lowest minimum hourly rate in Canada, but Sunday’s change places it a hair above Saskatchewan’s rate of $10.96 per hour.
Cavanagh says a 15 cent increase won’t help lift low-wage earners out of poverty.
The labour federation is involved with Fight For 15, a global movement aiming to shine the spotlight on income inequality.
Cavanagh also serves on the Nova Scotia minimum wage review committee, and he says the current system of aligning increases to the consumer price index (CPI) needs to change.
“We need to take a look at what the median income is ... and make sure that we increase our wages in line with what the median income is and add CPI to it.”
Ideally, he’d like to see wages across the board raised to $15 per hour.
However, the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation cautions against moving too quickly when it comes to wage increases.
Aaron Wudrick said it’s reasonable to raise wages in line with inflation, but bumping up wages by several dollars at once can force employers to reduce hours or even cut staff.
“The intent, of course, is to help people, but you can unintentionally end up harming some of those vulnerable people by actually decreasing employment,” said Wudrick.
Wudrick said Nova Scotia’s modest increase likely wont cause issues for employers.
“The more time (employers) are given to adjust, frankly, the easier it is for them to adjust, and the less of a chance that you’re going to throw people out of a job,” he said.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s minimum wage also went up by 15 cents on Sunday, bringing the rate up to $11.15, while New Brunswick’s wage went up by a quarter to $11.25.
Prince Edward Island’s minimum wage remains the highest in Atlantic Canada, increasing by 30 cents to $11.55 per hour.
Wages for all four Atlantic provinces are adjusted every year on April 1.