REGINA – Minimum wage earners in Saskatchewan will be pocketing more money this year.
The provincial government says the minimum wage is going up to $10.20 an hour from $10 starting in October.
Labour Relations Minister Don Morgan says increasing the minimum wage will give minimum wage earners more disposable income and improve their standard of living.
“We think in the range of 10,000 to 12,000 (people) will be at minimum wage and about another 10,000 will be close enough to minimum wage that they would have the effect of a bump-up,” Morgan said Monday at the legislature in Regina.
The government also says it will introduce regulations in the next few weeks to provide for regular indexing of the minimum wage each year. The formula will be based on the equal weighting of the percentage changes in the Consumer Price Index and average hourly wage for the previous year.
Morgan says he expects that means the minimum wage increase will be slightly higher than inflation.
He also says indexing the minimum wage will provide security for minimum wage earners and predictability for business owners.
The increase puts Saskatchewan in about the middle of the pack for minimum wages in Canada.
Nunavut has the highest minimum wage in Canada at $11 an hour, followed closely by Yukon at $10.54, according to the Retail Council of Canada.
The Ontario government has said it will increase the minimum wage to $11 an hour from $10.25 on June 1. However, anti-poverty activists and labour groups in Ontario had been lobbying for an increase in the rate to $14 an hour.
The minimum wage is $10.45 per hour in most industries in Manitoba.
Nova Scotia is increasing its minimum wage by 10 cents an hour to $10.40 as of April 1.
British Columbia’s current minimum wage is $10.25 an hour. Earlier this month, union leaders in B.C. called for an immediate increase in the minimum wage to $13 an hour, but Premier Christy Clark said she’s concerned that could hurt job creation.
As of January, the Northwest Territories, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island all had minimum wages set at $10 an hour.
The lowest is in Alberta, where employees are paid $9.95 an hour.
Morgan says Saskatchewan tried to strike a balance because it doesn’t want the increase to hurt businesses either.
“We don’t want to bump it up so fast or to the point that it will require people to be laid off,” he said.
The change in the minimum wage in Saskatchewan will be announced on or before June 30 of each year, with that change coming in effect on Oct. 1 of the same year.