EDMONTON—Representatives of Public Interest Alberta were pleased to learn today that the Alberta Government will increase the minimum wage to $11.20/hour as a first step toward raising it to $15.00/hour by 2018 and will immediately begin a two-year phase out of the two-tier minimum wage for employees who serve alcohol.
"The minimum wage increase and elimination of the two-tier minimum wage will help reduce income inequality and will begin to close the wage gap between men and women in Alberta," said Joel French, Director of Communications and Campaigns for Public Interest Alberta. "It's a positive step forward for reducing poverty and is a crucial part of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy, which we hope to see from the government in the near future."
Higher wages for low-income workers will also benefit the Alberta economy more broadly.
“It is important that Albertans recognize that, in addition to addressing an unjust situation, the minimum wage increase is in the public interest as well, as those whose receive wage increases at this level tend to spend that money locally on goods and services in their communities," said Larry Booi, President of Public Interest Alberta.
Some opposition parties and organizations representing employers have attempted to scare Albertans with job loss numbers. However, as the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute points out, that argument is not backed up by research in the area.
"The scare tactics about potential job losses are simply not founded in evidence," continued Booi. "At the government's consultation on minimum wage in June, one person asked who will be serving the coffee if the minimum wage goes up substantially. I think the answer is clear and reasonable: very likely the same people will be serving the coffee - but at a much more reasonable wage, and probably with a higher price for coffee for the rest of us. That seems more fair in general."- 30 -