Alberta minimum wage hike could result in 'significant job loss:' memo

The Alberta government's promise to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour could result in "significant job loss," according to an internal memo.

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A briefing note, prepared for Labour Minister Lori Sigurdson in June, states that officials didn’t know the overall impact of a minimum wage increase on the province's "uncertain economy."

"…but it is reasonable to assume that job loss, and perhaps significant job loss is one realistic possibility," the memo reads.

The memo said "major research" is needed to better understand the potential impact, and noted that by 2018, the estimated numbers of minimumwageearners could reach 17.7 per cent of the Alberta workforce.

“The impacts of further changes as that group grows in size and as the increases get larger probably cannot be assumed away,” the note reads. “And wage pressure may be a future challenge for the province’s labour market.”

The memo was obtained by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) through a freedom of information request.

Richard Truscott, CFIB vice-president for B.C. and Alberta, said the wage hike promised by the NDP government is an “irresponsible” way to develop public policy.

"It certainly looks like the government is shooting first and asking questions later," Truscott told CTVNews.ca. “They proceeded with this policy without truly understanding and analyzing what the full impact would be."

Truscott said small businesses in the province are already struggling to stay viable.

"This huge hike in the minimum wage is going to have an enormous impact on their bottom line," he said.

Alberta's minimum wage was raised by $1 to $11.20 an hour, on Oct. 1.

Premier Rachel Notley has promised that the government would boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018.

Alberta currently has one of the highest minimum wages in the country, trailing only Northwest Territories at $12.50 an hour and Ontario at $11.25 an hour.



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