On January 5, New Brunswick’s provincial government announced plans to increase their minimum wage from the current $8.25 per hour to $10 over the next two years. The move has gotten surprisingly little coverage in the mainstream media out West so far, but I urge you to check out this excellent article on the Times & Transcript website.
New Brunswick’s decision to increase their minimum wage is part of a larger poverty-reduction plan adopted last November. This move shows that New Brunswick is committed to ensuring a decent standard of living for all workers not just on paper but through action as well.
It’s worth noting that this time last year, New Brunswick’s minimum wage was $7.75, putting it in last place among all Canadian provinces. How much difference a year can make!
Closer to home, our Premier’s latest excuse for inaction on minimum wages has been the poor economic conditions (most recently used in a mid-December interview on the Bill Good show, see here). That is despite the fact that we’re among the provinces least harmed by the recession and that other, worse affected provinces are managing just fine with higher minimum wages. Now that I think of it, the boom wasn’t the right time to increase minimum wages either, according to our government. Hmm.
As a result, minimum wages remain frozen at $8 per hour, well below where they need to be to ensure that full-time, full-year work is a ticket out of poverty.
Kudos to New Brunswick’s government for showing us that it is possible to maintain one’s social conscience during a recession, and confirming that public policy is, essentially, a matter of choice and not something dictated by “the economy.”