No Fooling, minimum wage to get increase: Bump up will put Alberta at head of class after taxes, Labour critics contend it’s still not enough

Alberta's minimum wage will increase from $8 to $8.40 per hour on April 1.

"Alberta's experiencing a time of great prosperity," said Premier Ed Stelmach, adding that the wage increase will ensure that it keeps pace with other salary increases in Alberta.

"Wages have increased about five per cent and we're ensuring minimum wage earners are sharing in this growth."

Last June, government announced increases to minimum wage would be based on the average weekly wage index and come into effect on April 1.

The index is based on Statistics Canada's annual survey of employment, payroll and hours.

"With Alberta's vibrant economy and low unemployment, most employers are already paying more than minimum wage," said Hector Goudreau, Minister of Employment and Immigration.

However, not everyone in Alberta is impressed with the increase.

The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) contends that the increase is too small because the base rate is too low.

"Alberta's current minimum wage is simply too low," said AFL president Gil McGowan.

"We estimate that a living wage right now in the province would have to be at least $10 per hour. So the government-mandated increase to $8.40 per hour as of April 1 this year is actually very disappointing."

McGowan added that Alberta workers need a minimum wage that actually reflects the high cost of living in Alberta.

"A minimum wage, after all, should prevent full-time workers from living below the poverty line."

About 70,000 or 3.5 per cent of working Albertans make minimum wage.

The majority are 15 to 19 year olds working in the food service and hospitality industries.

Despite the fact that with the increase, Alberta's minimum wage remains the highest in Canada after taxes, McGowan proposes to first raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour and then index it.

"Let's start with a realistic and fair minimum wage -- and then take it from there," he said.

Even before taxes, Alberta will have the third highest minimum wage among provinces, behind only Ontario ($8.75) and Manitoba ($8.50).

Employers and employees with questions about minimum wage can contact the Employment Standards Contact Centre at 780-427-3731 (toll free in Alberta by first dialing 310-0000) or visit for more information.

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