A $ 1 increase will take effect in April, with another $ 1 increase in October, bringing the hourly rate to $ 13.75. This is a 17% increase from the current rate of $ 11.75. “We are currently dead last in the country in terms of minimum wage and far behind our neighbors in Atlantic Canada,” said Trevor Holder, provincial minister of post-secondary education, training and labor, at a press conference Thursday morning.
“This fact has troubled me as Minister of Labor for some time. To be frank, it’s downright embarrassing. “
The increase follows a five-cent increase in 2021 that the New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice called too small to make a difference for those earning minimum wage.
Abram Lutes, the group’s provincial coordinator, said next year’s increase still doesn’t go far enough. Lutes said the group’s position is that the minimum wage should be set at $ 15 and then adjusted annually.
“We are happy that the government has started to move on the issue,” he said in an interview. “But there is still a lot of catching up to do. “
The salary increase is still lower than what the Human Development Council calculated as a “living wage” in four New Brunswick cities.
The group suggests that a living wage ranges from $ 17.45 an hour in Bathurst to $ 20.75 in Fredericton, including things like housing and services.
New Brunswick had linked the annual increases to changes in the Consumer Price Index, a measure of changes in the cost of living.
Holder said the province determined that a “correction” was needed to bring New Brunswick into line with the rates of other provinces. He said the province would resume using the CPI to adjust the rate in 2023.
Holder said the 2022 increases are expected to affect 15,500 minimum wage workers as well as 30,000 others who earn more than the current minimum wage but less than $ 13.75 an hour.
A group of companies sees a lack of consultation
Restaurants Canada denounced the increase in a statement, saying it could add $ 25,000 to the costs of operating a restaurant in the province.
“This is an unreasonably drastic increase that couldn’t come at a worse time for New Brunswick restaurants,” said Luc Erjavec, association vice-president for Atlantic Canada, in the statement.
The Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce issued a statement saying the group is “concerned about the sudden and untimely announcement by the Government of New Brunswick.”
Jim Cormier, Atlantic director of the Retail Council of Canada, said the organization was not opposed to minimum wage increases, but said it had not been consulted on the change.
“We understand New Brunswick has fallen behind,” Cormier said in an interview Thursday. “It would be nice, however, to get some consultation with the industry before that happens. “
He said companies expected the wage rate to rise in April based on the CPI. He said businesses need a transparent and predictable process for knowing what to budget for in the future.
“So that’s creating havoc among business owners, where they’re going to have to try to adjust very quickly, especially for the increase that’s going to happen on April 1. “
Holder, when asked about the consultation with the business, did not say whether a consultation had taken place specifically on the $ 2 increase, but that there had been a consultation on the minimum wage over the years.
Minimum wages in the other Atlantic provinces
The minister said they wanted to increase the rate in part to bring the minimum wage closer to other Atlantic provinces, so they could discuss harmonizing the rate across Atlantic Canada.
In Nova Scotia the rate is $ 12.95 and will increase in April based on the CPI.
Newfoundland and Labrador increased its rate by 25 cents in October to $ 12.75.
Prince Edward Island will increase its rate by 70 cents to $ 13.70 starting in April 2022.