Saskatchewan Minimum Wage Increase: Too Much or Too Little?

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Saskatchewan Minimum Wage Increase  : too much or too little?

Jobs in the sectors of catering, hospitality and retail are often the ones offering minimum wage (archives).

Saskatchewan's minimum wage increases Saturday from $11.81/hr to $13/hr, not enough to meet inflation-related costs, experts say.

The minimum wage in Saskatchewan will increase again on October 1, 2023, reaching $14/hr, and there will be another increase in 2024, bringing the minimum wage to $15/hr.

At this point, the Saskatchewan government notes, the minimum wage will have seen an 89% increase since 2007, when it was $7.95/hr.

Professor at the University of Regina, Andrew Stevens published a study in 2017 at the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) about the minimum wage in Saskatchewan.

University of Regina professor Andrew Stevens says unfortunately we are still at the bottom of the scale compared to other provinces, citing the example of Manitoba, which saw its minimum wage increase to $13.50/hr on Saturday .

Despite the substantial percentage increase, Stevens says housing, food and energy costs will outpace residents' wage increases .

“This minimum wage increase is not a silver bullet.

— Andrew Stevens, Professor at the University of Regina

We feel like minimum wage workers are teenagers living in the basement from their parents' house. This is an oversimplification. We know that seniors in particular work for minimum wage.

Women, he adds, are overrepresented among the ranks of people who work for minimum wage.

Sheikh Kamal Ahmed, owner of a grocery store in Saskatoon, sees a dramatic increase in his operating costs.

Andrew Stevens says some small business owners are in favor of the wage increase, but Saskatoon grocery store owner Sheikh Kamal Ahmed is not.

There is a 20% to 30% increase in the cost of importing products from Bangladesh, India or other South Asian countries, the trader explains. But customers are not willing to pay so much for these products.

With spending hit by inflation, raising the minimum wage will have a negative impact on our business, he said.

< p class="sc-v64krj-0 knjbxw">Brianna Solberg is a Senior Policy Analyst with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), which represents over 4,300 small businesses in Saskatchewan.

Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) senior policy analyst Brianna Solberg says half of the province's small businesses have returned to pre-pandemic level sales.

According to CFIB data, most merchants have increased the prices of their products and services in order to cope with the general increase in costs that has occurred over the past year.

According to Ms. Solberg, small business owners indicate that this is largely due to labor costs.

“This wage increase comes as small business owners are still trying to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

— Brianna Solberg, Senior Policy Analyst at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business

CFIB is calling on the provincial government to freeze taxes for small businesses while they recover. It is also asking to drop the provincial sales tax, in effect as of Saturday.

Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry activist Peter Gilmer says Saskatchewan's wage increase is a step in the right direction, but it's not enough.

Activist in of the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry, Peter Gilmer says the increase is not enough, whether it's $13/hr or $15/hr.

Quoting a report from the 2021 CCPA, Mr. Gilmer states that a wage of $16.23/hr in Regina and $16.89/hr in Saskatoon would be needed to maintain a decent standard of living.

Moving from a minimum wage to a living wage will allow people to meet their basic needs, which is not the case today, says Peter Gilmer. This increase will limit the migration of Saskatchewanians to other provinces.

“A living wage is essential to correct the problem of growing poverty in Saskatchewan. ”

— Peter Gilmer, activist with the group Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry

In Saskatoon, Darell Mills is directly affected by this new measure since he works for minimum wage .

It's going to take some time to catch up with the cost of living, he says, saying his gas and food expenses have gone up.

When you have children or when you want to go back to school, it's very difficult.

With information from Pratyush Dayal

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