EDMONTON - Public Interest Alberta has released its annual Low Wage Report with data from Statistics Canada which shows that nearly a quarter million of Alberta’s lowest wage workers can legally have their wages cut this year, as the minimum wage has been frozen for the first time since 2010. Inflation was 1.3% for the past year.
“The minimum wage freeze means a small pay cut this year, and if it continues over time, it will result in a big pay cut to the lowest wage workers who are already struggling,” said Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “We’re missing a key opportunity to put more money into the pockets of Alberta’s lowest wage workers. A raise for them would not only boost our economy, but would also allow more people to live with dignity and security.”
French also highlighted that the freeze will make Alberta’s problem of severe wealth inequality even worse.
“The gap between the rich and the poor in our province is already wide,” added French. “While minimum wage workers face an effective pay cut, the richest Canadians have had their incomes grow by 8.5%, so this freeze will make the wage gap even worse.”
The data shows that a high percentage of the lowest wage workers in Alberta are women.
“Women in our province are impacted the hardest by this freeze, as over sixty percent of minimum wage earners are women,” said French. “Increasing the minimum wage is one of the ways we can achieve greater gender equality.”
Lastly, the data shows that the vast majority of minimum wage earners are adults.
“More than three quarters of minimum wage earners are over 20 years old,” said French. “Rather than the popular myth of these being young teenagers getting their first experience and seeking extra spending money, minimum wage earners are overwhelmingly adults, many of whom are barely scraping by as they try to support themselves and their families.”