Blog | June 01, 2012

No bump for those who serve liquor and receive tips

By Karen Kleiss, Edmonton JournalEDMONTON—Albertans who are paid minimum wage will get a 35-cent raise in the fall, the province announced Thursday.The hourly rate will rise to $9.75 per hour from $9.40, moving Alberta’s minimum wage from the lowest in the country to the second-lowest.Those who serve liquor and receive tips will not get a raise; their hourly rate will stay at $9.05.“Even though cost of living has not increased significantly in the province…I think the adjustment for those living on minimum wage is important,” Human Service Minister Dave Hancock said.The raise is automatic under the government’s new minimum wage formula. The formula links Alberta’s minimum wage to annual increases in the Average Weekly Earnings Index and the Consumer Price Index, and mandates raises on Sept. 1 each year.The new formula was implemented in June 2011. Months later, Premier Alison Redford promised to reopen debate over how to set the minimum wage.“I don’t think we’ll ever be the highest, but it’s not right that we’re the lowest, so we’ll be looking at that,” Redford said in November, shortly after she was elected leader of the Progressive Conservatives.“It is important to make sure that everyone who is working is actually earning an income that allows them to not be considered part of the working poor.”Albertans are still waiting for her to keep that promise, said Bill Moore-Kilgannon of the left-wing advocacy group Public Interest Alberta.“She absolutely needs to review the current minimum wage policy, particularly in light of the very high cost of living in Alberta,” Moore-Kilgannon said.“Working parents with children are living in poverty because they are not earning a living wage, and we know that upwards of 50 per cent of all children living in poverty have one parent working full time, full year.”Hancock said the province isn’t currently reviewing the minimum wage formula but it be part of discussions concerning the province’s poverty reduction strategy and the social policy framework.“That’s part of the discussion about the tools you have to achieve social equity, and is minimum wage one of them, and that obviously will come up,” Hancock said. “But we’re not doing each of them as a one-off.”

By Karen Kleiss, Edmonton [email protected] article was published in the Edmonton Journal on June 1, 2012. Read the full article on the Edmonton Journal website.