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AB: Minimum wage set to increase

By Mario Cywinski |

AB: On April 1, the province will impose a five percent increase in the minimum wage for small businesses. All wages within a small business environment will be increased, not just entry-level positions.

The minimum wage will go up 40 cents from $8.40 to $8.80 per hour.

"Imposing a sudden minimum wage increase on thousands of small businesses in Alberta when sales are declining will hurt the very people it is intended to help," says Mark von Schellwitz, vice-president western Canada with the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA).

Many of the province’s small businesses have shown concern about the proposed wage increase and along with the CRFA, wrote to the Premier asking for a freeze to the minimum wage in 2009.

"Restaurant owners will be forced to cut hours to control their costs and employees will end up earning less. This is especially true for the roughly one third of our employees who earn far more in gratuity income than wage income," said von Schellwitz. "For them, losing hours will translate not only into a loss of wage income, but more significantly into a loss of tipped income."

During a recent throne speech, the British Columbia government said that they believe now is not a good time to increase the minimum wage, as it will hurt those it claims to help.

"The British Columbia government gets it, but obviously the Alberta government doesn't," says von Schellwitz.

Nunavut currently has the highest minimum wage at $10 per hour, while New Brunswick has the lowest at $7.75. Ontario is expected to increase its rate to $10.25 by March 2010. Many provinces across Canada plan moderate increases to their minimum wage in the near future.

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