New Brunswick's Minimum Wage Will Soon Be Country's Lowest

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NEW BRUNSWICK
When Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador boost their minimum wage this fall, New Brunswick will be tied with the Northwest Territories for the lowest in the country. | Shutterstock

Life on a minimum-wage income is a struggle for many Canadian workers, especially those with families. But some employers don't always support increases, suggesting they're bad for business.

One solution is to tie increases to the cost of living, as the Yukon Territory does and Nova Scotia began to do this spring. But its neighbour, New Brunswick, has no plans to do that anytime soon.

The average N.B. employee working 40 hours on minimum-wage takes home $1,600 a month.

The province plans to keep its minimum wage at $10 an hour as Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan boost theirs by 20 and 25 cents this fall. Alberta also plans to hike its minimum wage from $9.95 to $10.20 on Sept. 1.

Once those three increases come into effect, New Brunswick will be tied with the Northwest Territories for Canada's lowest minimum wage.

Jean-Claude Basque, provincial co-coordinator for the Common Front for Social Justice, told Global New Brunswick he thinks not indexing wages to the cost of living isn't worth the cost to the province's health care and social systems.

“The whole package is a real drain on the province’s resources,” he said. “So if we’re reducing, partly, the poverty level, we would help the province [have] a better standard of living.”

New Brunswickers last saw a minimum wage increase in 2012 when it went up from $9.50 to $10. The province also drew a lot of controversy that year when it considered setting a different minimum wage for restaurant workers who collect tips.

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