09/14/2013 12:18 EDT | Updated 11/14/2013 05:12 EST

Nova Scotia Election: NDP Vows To Continue Increasing Minimum Wage


HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's NDP promised Saturday to continue increasing the minimum wage if re-elected on Oct. 8 as the first week of the campaign wrapped up.

Premier Darrell Dexter said the minimum wage is adjusted annually as recommended by a review committee.

The adjustment is based on the previous year’s consumer price index and the low-income cut-off, which is set by Statistics Canada and represents the threshold where people are devoting a significantly larger than average percentage of their income to food, shelter and clothing.

“The NDP will continue to increase the minimum wage to keep up with the cost of living," Dexter said in a news release. "It’s the right thing to do."

Dexter said the NDP has increased minimum wage four times since 2009. The province's minimum wage is currently $10.30 per hour for experienced employees and $9.80 per hour for inexperienced employees.

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said if elected, his party would continue to support the recommendations of the minimum wage review committee.

"The commitment that the government is making today has been a commitment made by everyone," said McNeil from Inverness, N.S., on Saturday afternoon.

Dexter slammed the Liberal party, saying that during their last five years in government, minimum wage only increased 35 cents.

“The last Liberal government froze minimum wages between 1993 and 1996," Dexter said in the statement.

McNeil said the premier's remarks "shows how desperate this government is."

"While Nova Scotians are suffering, our premier is going back two decades," said McNeil. "Nova Scotians are suffering in present day by a government that has been unable to rein in power rates, by a government that has had fewer full-time jobs under their watch than we had at the height of the recession."

Dexter also accused Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie of saying the current minimum wage is too high.

In a news release, Baillie said that Dexter's comments were misleading and that his party had wanted to base minimum wage increases on the rate of inflation.

“Darrell Dexter is once again trying to deflect from his failed record that has seen 2,700 Nova Scotians lose full-time jobs under his watch,” said Baillie in the statement.

“The premier knows full well his NDP government is to blame for the increases in the cost of living with their tax hikes, power rate increases, job losses and their obsession with giving big handouts to rich companies."

Baillie also noted that the minimum wage review committee was established under a Progressive Conservative government in 2003 and that he was the chief of staff to Premier John Hamm at that time.

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