Pallister government wrong on minimum wage

With only four days of notice, the Pallister government called to committee Bill 33, the Minimum Wage Indexation Act, for debate this evening. MFL President Kevin Rebeck made a submission on behalf of 100,000 unionized workers across Manitoba.

“The Pallister government’s new bill is inadequate and unfair,” said Rebeck. “Having a job and working full-time, should mean Manitobans can live above the poverty line. But this bill makes poverty wages the law of the land and keeps many vulnerable Manitobans trapped.”

Bill 33 was introduced after the Pallister government last year refused to increase the minimum wage — one of only two provinces to not raise the minimum wage in 2016 — leaving full-time minimum-wage earners $400 worse off.

Manitoba’s minimum wage falls far short of what working families need to meet their basic needs. Statistics Canada’s most recent (2014) calculation of the low-income cut-off (LICO) reveals that Manitoba’s current minimum wage of $11/hour falls $4.53/hour short of the poverty line, let alone a living wage.

“Indexing the minimum wage at what is already a poverty wage will ensure minimum-wage earners can never escape poverty. Annual indexing can make a difference but only when it’s applied to a base wage that’s already a living wage,” said Rebeck.

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