Anti-poverty group member says wage must be higher than $10 an hour
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As the provincial government gets ready to review P.E.I.’s minimum wage, at least one anti-poverty group thinks it should go up.
Mary Boyd, whose group the P.E.I. Coalition for a Poverty Reduction Strategy is preparing a submission for the review, said there is a challenge for businesses to develop a conscience about the way they pay employees and ask ethical questions about what kind of a society they want.
“Doesn’t the worker deserve a just wage? They do,” she said.
Every year the province’s Employment Standards Board reviews P.E.I.’s minimum wage and seeks submissions from the public.
The province’s minimum wage has increased in recent years to reach $10 per hour.
Boyd said what her group would like to see is a livable wage that reflects how much a family needs to pay its bills and get by.
A minimum wage, on the other hand, is the least an employer has to pay and doesn’t have any other requirements, Boyd said.
“It’s not tied to the cost of living and unfortunately, even though we’ve had rapid increases in the minimum wage, we’ve also had rapid increases in the cost of living.”
Boyd said she was hesitant to give a figure for how much minimum wage should increase.
“Certainly if it’s indexed to the cost of living it would be more than $10 an hour,” she said. Erin McGrath-Gaudet of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said when it comes to assessing potential minimum wage increases her organization typically compares it to inflation.
There have been spikes in minimum wage that outpaced inflation in recent years, she said.
“That makes it really difficult for small businesses to adapt so they end up having to cut back in other places in their business.”
McGrath-Gaudet said inflation hasn’t increased enough for a need to increase minimum wage and her group has heard from members that had to cut back in some ways after the increases to minimum wage in recent years.
“They do try to maneuver and adjust as minimally as they can and stay afloat, but at the end of the day they still have to be able to cover those costs.”
The deadline for submissions is Nov. 15.