Starting Oct. 1, minimum wage earners in Saskatchewan will be taking home some extra coin.
The province has said the minimum wage will increase to $11.32 an hour, up 26 cents. It is currently $11.06 an hour.
The increase is just more than two per cent, which given increasing costs, whether looking at municipal property taxes, the impact of the federal carbon tax, or a range of other things that impact personal budgets, is a modest one.
But of greater debate is that even with the increase in October, the minimum wage in Saskatchewan remains the lowest among Canadian provinces.
Manitoba currently has the second-lowest minimum wage at $11.35 an hour, but it is increasing to $11.65 hour on Oct. 1, so will be higher than here.
Alberta has the country’s highest minimum wage at $15.00 an hour.
There have been those calling for a $15 minimum wage in Saskatchewan, which makes some sense when you consider the province has to be at least somewhat competitive with its neighbour to the west.
The $3.68 difference is a significant difference.
There certainly seems room to push the minimum wage in Saskatchewan higher although some will suggest bumping it too much would negatively impact the economy. Certainly, to dramatic an increase, at least at one time, would cause some issues.
However, moving out of the basement in terms of the rate provincially would seem reasonable, especially if we believe the reports out of Regina by the current government regarding a relatively boisterous economy, certainly one that should be able to pay the minimum wage earner more than the lowest established base wage in the country.
It should be remembered that the minimum wage is essentially the baseline for workers to be able to live reasonably in our society.
Come October a minimum wage earner working a 40-hour work week, an increasing rarity in terms of minimum wage jobs, will gross $452.80, or $1811.20 a month.
When you start to think about rent, utilities, clothes, food and the other costs of generally surviving the margin is obviously razor thin.
A $15 wage increases the totals to $600 a week, or $2400 monthly, still not a wage allowing for largess in lifestyle.
Clearly being at the bottom of the scale should not be seen as acceptable. That means a plan is required, one that sets out a reasonable target, somewhere between dead last, and $15, and a phase in over a reasonable amount of time to allow employers to plan for the impact.
It would seem a reasonable expectation from our political parties as we begin looking ahead to the next provincial election in the fall of 2020.