[Canada] Lowest minimum wage called 'disgraceful'

A moderate increase to Saskatchewan’s minimum wage rate has been announced by the province's government, Discover Weyburn reports.

Saskatchewan's minimum wage will go up from $11.06 per hour to $11.32 per hour on October 1.

Increases to the dependent child tax credit, the basic and spousal income tax exemptions and the Saskatchewan low-income tax credit will let minimum wage earners and other low-income earners keep more of their money, according to the news statement.

Officials reportedly said the increase was calculated based on an indexation formula the province has used since 2011. The index takes into account changes to the consumer price index and the average hourly wage for the previous year. It is reviewed annually.  However, some are sceptical that the modest increase can make any difference at all.

Lori Johb - the President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour - pointed out that even after the October increase Saskatchewan will still have the lowest minimum wage rate in the country. A situation which she calls "disgraceful."
"I don't think it'll change anything for workers," said Ms Johb. "The increase is so minimal, that I don't believe they'll even notice a difference. So really, it's quite disgraceful for a province as rich as ours to have the worst minimum wage in the country."

Ms Johb says she is seeing more Saskatchewanians struggling financially and a growing number of people working multiple jobs. She says the 26 cents per hour increase simply isn't enough.

"We know that people are living in our province working more than one job full-time and still having to stop at the food bank on their way home because they just can't make ends meet. And anybody that is a single income family, there's just no way they can make it, I don't know what they do every month. There's just no way, it's so far below the living wage."

This is the eleventh increase to minimum wages in Saskatchewan since 2007 when the minimum wage stood at $7.95, according to the Government of Saskatchewan's website.

At present Manitoba has the second-lowest minimum wage at $11.35 per hour. It will go up to $11.65 per hour on October 1. Alberta has the country’s highest minimum wage of $15.00 per hour.