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Minimum wage increase means little for part time workers

The minimum wage in Nova Scotia will increase from $8.10 to $8.60 on April 1, but that doesn't mean much to Sara Barter.

The minimum wage in Nova Scotia will increase from $8.10 to $8.60 on April 1, but that doesn't mean much to Sara Barter.

Barter works 30 hours per week as a cashier at a Needs store in Halifax. She earns $8.50 per hour, and the raise to bring her up to the new minimum wage will only be about $3 more per week. "At 25 hours (per week) I can manage to live," she says, but not much else.

Nova Scotia's minimum wage is set by a review committee made up of two employees and two employers. They consult the Consumer Price Index, the low-income cutoff line, and a profile of minimum-wage employees.

The committee estimates 22 per cent of the workforce could benefit from the increase, as low entry-level wages often increase with minimum wage. Minimum-wage employees are predominantly women and often work only part-time, the report said.

The committee recommends two more minimum-wage increases for next year, bringing it to $9.65 on Oct. 1, 2010.

This would put Nova Scotia near the low-income cutoff line, which is based on family income and population size. For a single person living in a city the size of Halifax, it is $8.97 per hour, assuming a 40-hour workweek all year, based on 2007 statistics.

Nova Scotia has the fifth-lowest minimum wage in Canada. Traditionally, it’s on par with Prince Edward Island, and slightly higher than New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

Barter laughs when she hears Newfoundland's minimum wage is set to increase to $9 per hour in April, and $10 next year. She moved here from Newfoundland more than a year ago.

"I guess I should have just stayed home."

 
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