Manitoba moves to raise minimum wage after receiving flak for soon offering Canada’s lowest

The Manitoba government wants to give itself the legislative powers to boost the minimum wage presumably above a rate that’s poised to be the lowest in Canada this October.

Under new legislation introduced Monday, the provincial government would have the authority to hike minimum wage increases above and beyond the legislative increases that are already tied to inflation.

The province will only have this authority in the years in which the inflation rate exceeds five per cent, such as the current year. 

Manitoba currently offers a minimum wage of $11.95 an hour. Under the existing formula of tying wage hikes to inflation, the lowest earners are slated to receive an extra 40 cents an hour, to $12.35, by Oct. 1.

But that modest pay bump would put Manitoba at the bottom of wage-earners, given that Saskatchewan would boost their minimum wage that same day to $13 an hour by October 2022 and eventually $15 by 2024.

Provinces across the country have been pushed to boost the minimum wage as inflationary pressures have caused the cost of living to soar. 

While tabling the legislation, Labour Minister Reg Helwer acknowledged that Manitobans are facing a difficult time right now. 

Earlier this month, Premier Heather Stefanson appeared to brush aside questions of raising the minimum wage, saying many employers have already been voluntarily increasing wages to cope with the ongoing labour shortage.

Wages have ‘somewhat gotten behind’

But on Friday, she acknowledged Manitoba needs to be more competitive with other provinces in the pay it offers.

“Even though we have indexed our minimum wage to inflation, I think we have somewhat gotten behind where other provinces have gone and so we want to ensure that we are not falling behind there,” Stefanson told reporters after a meeting of the Western Premiers’ Conference in Regina.

The Tory government passed legislation in 2017 to index the minimum wage to the rate of inflation. 

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