The province will increase the minimum wage 50 cents to $10 an hour on Oct. 1, Labour and Immigration Minister Jennifer Howard announced today.
“By increasing the minimum wage, we are strengthening the purchasing power of minimum-wage earners across the province,” said Howard. “Manitoba has one of the strongest labour markets in the country and the second-lowest unemployment rate. At the sametime, revenues continue to rise in most industries, including restaurant and retail, where many employees earn a minimum wage.”
The minimum wage rate last increased 50 cents to $9.50 per hour on Oct. 1, 2010. That followed an increase of 25 cents on May 1, 2009, and another increase of 25 cents on Oct. 1, 2009.
The Labour Management Review Committee (LMRC), composed of equal representatives from labour and business organizations, recommended three annual increases ending in 2012. However, they differed on the amount with employer representatives recommending annual increases of 30 cents and labour representatives recommending an increase of 75 cents. As well, on the recommendation of employer representatives, the government agreed to implement the increase in October to give seasonal industries time to plan.
The minister said the increase can be good for businesses as it helps attract and retain workers, a concern for industry and for rural Manitoba in times of tight labour markets.
The government has taken significant measures in the last year to help Manitoba businesses keep more money, allowing them to reinvest in their companies, said Howard. In December, Manitoba became the first province in Canada to permanently eliminate the small business tax. The government then cut the general corporation capital tax in January. Combined, these tax cuts along with cuts previously delivered by the province, will save Manitoba businesses approximately $424 million in 2011, the minister said. Legislation recently introduced would also allow businesses to create flexible work-hour agreements with employees and save on overtime costs.
The minister said increasing the minimum wage is only one part of the provincial strategy to combat poverty.
“Budget 2011 includes a $1,000 increase to the Basic Personal Exemption over the next four years,” said Howard. “Once fully implemented, more than 22,000 Manitobans will be taken off the tax rolls.”
The 50-cent increase per hour places Manitoba just above the average Canadian minimum hourly wage. Nine other jurisdictions have announced increases in their minimum wage for 2011. Manitoba joins seven other provinces and territories that will have minimum wages of $10 or more per hour by May 2012.