Manitoba’s phased-in minimum wage rise to $15 gets mixed reviews

Manitoba announced it’s plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 using a phased-in approach on Thursday and for some Manitobans, that isn’t sitting well.

It doesn’t help that the province still sits at the second lowest in the country for minimum wage.

Read more: Manitoba plans to raise minimum wage to $15 by 2023

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents more than 19,000 Manitoba worker, is calling for a minimum wage increase to $16.15 an hour, according to Jeff Traeger, UFCW president.

“With the cost of living projected to continue rising, we need a forward-thinking government that addresses inflation in a proactive way for its residents, not just its businesses,” Traeger said in a statement Friday.

“Workers and their families are struggling to make ends meet and it’s not enough to tell them there’s wage increases coming in six months.”

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Read more: Manitoba to boast Canada’s lowest minimum wage when rate increases in Saskatchewan

John McCallum with the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba told 680 CJOB inflation is a national problem provinces can’t solve on their own.

“The principal way you deal with it is through monetary policy, higher interest rates, slower growth in the money supply — and also, the federal budget spending has a very big impact on price levels,” McCallum said.

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“It is very hard for a province to tangle with a problem that is essentially federal. They all do their best to pick a minimum wage that gets the workers that are needed but doesn’t hurt business too much.”

Read more: Canadian inflation expected to cool with falling gas prices. But will it last?

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While some businesses have said they will struggle to meet the wage requirements, business owner Anthony Kowalszyk said they have been able to accommodate higher wages with some price adjustments.

“As a business it was a decision four of us made to make sure we’re not taking advantage of any body,” said Kowalszyk.

The move he and his business partners at Good Will Social Club made to pay his staff a minimum of $16 per hour was a no-brainer, he said.

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