Living wage valued at $18.13 per hour in N.B.

The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council estimates that a decent living wage in New Brunswick is $18.13 an hour. Nearly four out of ten workers are currently paid below this threshold.

“Should everyone at least earn a living wage?” This is the question posed by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council in its latest report.

The independent think tank estimated the hourly rate a full-time worker would need to meet their basic needs, avoid financial stress, support their children’s development and participate in life. social and cultural of his community.

It must cover expenses related to food, housing, clothing, transportation, childcare, health care, household expenses and participation in social events.

According to the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, this hourly income allowing a dignified life in June 2022 would be $13.79 in Prince Edward Island, $20.24 in Nova Scotia and 18. $13 in New Brunswick.

In 2019, 40.9% of New Brunswick workers were paid below this living wage. About 24% earned 15% per hour. Nearly 6.4% of employees were paid minimum wage. They mainly work in the retail sector, which is followed by the food and accommodation sectors.

The living wage calculation is based on a two-person family with two dependent children. The youngest child is in full-time care while the oldest is in before and after school care. Both parents work 35 hours a week and one of them attends college evening classes.

Since April 2021, the Halifax Regional Municipality has also used this formula to require certain subcontractors who obtain a contract to pay their employees at least $21.80 per hour.

The authors of the study acknowledge that the type of household on which their model is based is far from representing the majority of situations, noting that any public decision on establishing a living wage would require further analysis.

While they point out that many empirical analyzes show that a moderate increase in the minimum wage has virtually no effect on employment, they recognize that raising the minimum wage to the living wage level could create unemployment, especially if this increase is not gradual.

“This could encourage some lower-paid workers to move to this area for better pay. Some employers may also move their operations to other jurisdictions where labor is cheaper,” writes the think tank.

“Increasing employee pay by such a substantial amount would likely lead many companies to raise prices, which in turn would increase the cost of living and therefore the living wage.”

The province’s minimum hourly wage rose from $11.75 to $12.75 in April. It will increase by one more dollar on October 1, 2022.

« This adjustment will benefit approximately 15,500 minimum wage workers, as well as 30,000 New Brunswick workers who earn between the current minimum wage and $13.75 per hour, » the provincial government said when it said. made the announcement last fall.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is reluctant to do so.

“These are additional pressures that are added on companies when the costs accumulate”, expresses its provincial director, Louis-Philippe Gauthier. Conversely, the Common Front for Social Justice wants to see the increases continue, and is campaigning for New Brunswick’s minimum wage to reach $20 an hour.

Nova Scotia sees further

Nova Scotia opted for a longer term plan. The minimum wage, set at $13.35 since April 1, will increase every six months until it reaches $15 per hour on April 1, 2024. Thereafter, it will be adjusted upwards according to the rate of inflation, plus an additional 1%, each year from April 1, 2025.

Nova Scotia’s Minimum Wage Review Committee, which recommended this approach, notes that affected workers are « unable to meet their housing costs without the expense putting undue pressure on their income – reducing their ability to pay for necessities like food, clothing and transportation.”

« Even if not all workers earning the minimum wage have to face such constraints, several stakeholders are concerned that, in the absence of a change in the current approach to determining the minimum wage, a certain number of workers earning minimum wage continue to live below the poverty line and struggle to meet their needs.”

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