The Tories say they will continue with their plan to boost minimum wage despite the economic downturn.
Nova Scotia last saw its minimum wage rise to $8.10 from $7.60 per hour on March 31. It was the first step in a three-year-plan by the province’s minimum wage review committee.
That plan concludes in October 2010 with a minimum wage of $9.65. Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador just announced it would increase its minimum wage to $10 per hour over the next 18 months. As of New Year’s Day, it went up to $8.50. New Brunswick and P.E.I. are debating raises of their own.
Labour Minister Mark Parent said some businesses have complained about raising Nova Scotia’s minimum rate to $8.10 during a rough economic period.
“There have been businesses that have come and said that decision was made in light of better economic times and it’s putting pressure on us to have such a high minimum wage. I don’t foresee any changes to the decision that was made,” said Parent.
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Parent said the demographic profile of Nova Scotia means employers have to pay more anyway. He said fewer young people and a smaller labour force puts upward pressure on wages.
“I found when we raised the minimum wage this time that many of the companies were already paying that. They had to pay that or above in order to attract workers,” he said.
New Brunswick currently has the lowest minimum wage rate in the country at $7.75 per hour. Nova Scotia’s rate is the fourth lowest.