The Weyburn Chamber of Commerce is hoping that any future increases in the province's minimum wage will stay independent of economic indicators, in light of the fact the provincial minimum wage is scheduled to go up from $9.25 per hour to $9.
The Weyburn Chamber of Commerce is hoping that any future increases in the province's minimum wage will stay independent of economic indicators, in light of the fact the provincial minimum wage is scheduled to go up from $9.25 per hour to $9.50 per hour on September 1.
With this increase minimum wage will have gone up by 19 per cent over the past four years, an increase of $1.55 per hour since 2007. The minimum wage in Saskatchewan is currently rising faster than the inflation rate and the consumer price index (CPI), but the chamber argues this shouldn't factor into whether the wage should be hiked or not.
"The reason we don't want to see minimum wage ever tied to any kind of an economic indicator, is because economic indicators are dynamic," said Jeff Richards, manager of the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce.
"Let's say you decide to tie minimum wage to the CPI (in Saskatchewan). The CPI over the last 10 years would have looked sort of flat, and then a jump and a level, a jump and a level, a jump and a level," said Richards as he drew a graph. "But when they tie minimum wage to CPI they tie to the increases, because what else will you tie it to? You can't literally have it be a dollar figure because then minimum wage would change constantly. Here's the problem: if minimum wage is tied to any kind of an economic indicator it's fine today, but what if the CPI takes a dip? You can't lower somebody's wage, so all of a sudden you have an employer who's saddled with a wage that maybe they can't support."
The Saskatchewan Minimum Wage Board shares this sentiment. In their 2011 report, where they recommended the wage increase, they state that minimum wage should not decrease if the CPI decreases because minimum wage earners need a reliable and consistent income.
"This upcoming minimum wage increase was fairly expected. I think most people expected the minimum wage to go up one more time. We'd like to see the government take a really, really, really good look at how they do these things now."
The Saskatchewan Minimum Wage Board is made up of business and labour leaders, and they review minimum wage at least once a year. They weigh increases in the minimum wage and how it will affect and be affected by economic indicators such as inflation and the CPI. If they believe it is appropriate, they will either recommend the provincial government increase minimum wage, or keep it the same.