Blog | November 04, 2011

By Karen Kleiss, edmontonjournal.comEDMONTON—Premier Alison Redford says the province will take another look at its $9.40 minimum hourly wage, the lowest among provinces.“We are probably going to see some sort of settling in the middle,” Redford told CTV Calgary on Thursday. “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.“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.”Redford said she is concerned that if the minimum wage is set too high it will drive up wages across the board, to the detriment of business.She also backed the province’s controversial decision to introduce a two-tier minimum wage, saying the regime protects the vulnerable while keeping business competitive.“What we want to do is try to create a system where people who are accessing things like tips in bars…don’t necessarily have to be dictated to have the same minimum wage as people who aren’t,” Redford said. “There is some work that’s being done on that right now.”In June, then-employment minister Thomas Lukaszuk introduced a controversial two-tier minimum wage, rejecting a recommendation made by an all-party committee of MLAs and instead adopting the advice of Alberta restaurant operators.Effective Sept. 1, the minimum wage for those who serve alcohol rose to $9.05 an hour from $8.80. The minimum wage for everyone else jumped to $9.40 an hour from $8.80.More than 20,000 Albertans earn minimum wage.Redford’s commitment to look again at the province’s minimum wage comes in the middle of a campaign by Public Interest Alberta, which is distributing “Lukaszuk Bucks” to raise awareness about Alberta’s low minimum wage.“Many servers don’t know they’re getting paid less than the minimum wage, and we want people to speak out for themselves,” said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, the group’s executive director. “Not everyone is earning fabulous tips, and they often have to tip out the back-of-house staff and are working long, hard hours late into the night.“My bottom line has always been that someone who is working full time should not be living in poverty. I’m happy to hear the premier shares that fundamental value.”

By Karen Kleiss,[email protected]

This article was published on the Edmonton Journal website on November 3, 2011. Read the full article on the Edmonton Journal website.