Big concerns for minimum wage hike

Increase raising alarms for regional board of trade

Raising the minimum wage in Alberta is going to have impacts to not only small businesses but to the cost of living as well.

That’s according to Stacey Benjamin, executive director for the Stettler Regional Board of Trade and Community Development.

She said raising the minimum wage to $13.60 an hour – which came into effect at the start of the month — and $15 an hour next year will make it even more challenging for small business owners.

“It is going to have quite a substantial and impact on the community,” she said. “Because these are minimum entry level jobs that are increasing, we are also going to see the cost of everything else increasing as well. When you go to buy a cheeseburger it is going to cost more because the businesses have to pay their staff just that much more.”

The Alberta government argues there’s a difference between earning a minimum wage and a living wage, which is the amount someone needs to cover costs. The province states about 15 per cent of employees earn less than $15 an hour with many of those being females, parents and those with permanent jobs.

According to the government, a higher minimum wage will help to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for vulnerable people.

With the increase, the NDP government promised some relief to small business owners with a proposed tax cut, which will bring the rate down from three per cent to two per cent.

In addition, the province is promising to spend $34 billion over five years to support families and businesses modernize and develop efficient infrastructure.

Benjamin said a tax reduction would definitely help but wasn’t sure by how much. She also believes that paying more will impact the number of jobs being offered by small business owners.

“We’ve had a pretty tough economy in Alberta the last couple of years so throwing in a wrench like that will definitely impact an already hurting business even more,” she said. “Maybe even to the point they don’t even have a business anymore.”

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