is new brunswick minimum wage going up

A local government committee is meeting tomorrow to discuss the future of minimum wage in New Brunswick and is expected to announce a decision. There was enough discussion among the provincial government, that they created a province-wide panel to study the issue. This group of experts includes labour market analysts, community service providers, and economists focussing on financial sector development.

New Brunswick has been debating whether or not their current minimum wage should be increased for some time now. The last increase happened two years ago when it was raised from $10 per hour to $11 per hour – which made it then one of the lowest in Canada. At the time of the last increase, a spokesman for NB employers said that they were concerned that businesses were being forced out of the province due to the new wage.

According to this Employment and Social Development Canada’s report on minimum wage in Canada, New Brunswick is in a precarious situation when it comes to raising its minimum wage. In fact, it says that “there is some evidence that the current level of minimum wage in New Brunswick may be too low; businesses are reporting that costs are rising as a result of increasing labour costs at this low level.” It goes on to say that “the $10 per hour rate was last raised in 2009 after being frozen at its previous level since 1997. Further, the current minimum wage has not been adjusted to reflect inflation.”

The federal government has said that they have a “responsibility to ensure that wages in Canada are kept up with those in other industrialized nations.” Their aim is to ensure that employees have enough money to reach the standard of living required of a typical Canadian:

“In 2012, average real wages across Canada dipped by 0.4 per cent compared with 2011; this marked the fourth consecutive decrease and is the longest stretch without any real wage growth since 2003. The situation has left many Canadians struggling to keep up with basic expenses and forced them into poverty or postponing important purchases such as buying a house, sending their children to school or taking them for needed surgery.
Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba have all increased their minimum wage in the past year. Alberta has pledged to increase its wage to $15 per hour by 2018. All other provinces are at least on par with the federal minimum wage rate of $10 per hour or higher.”

Labour groups who are pushing for an increase are concerned that New Brunswick is leaving itself vulnerable to other provinces by not increasing their wage now. In fact, they believe that an increase could possibly help bring back jobs that have been lost in part due to the workforce being unable to afford housing and rising prices due to a decreasing purchasing power.

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