The province has endorsed an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour for April 2024.
This follows recommendations by the province’s minimum wage review committee, representing employees and employers province-wide, to steadily increase the minimum wage rate over the next two years.
“We know that not everyone may agree on this, but we do hope that people will understand the care, the respect and the time that the minimum wage committee took to come out with a balanced perspective, making sure that employees’ voices, as well as employers, were included in this recommendation,” said Labour Minister Jill Balser.
“What we’re seeing in the recommendation to get to $15 is that a steady increase through four increases is really a pathway forward.”
While not a part of the Conservatives’ original campaign promises, Balser agreed that it was time for Nova Scotia to join other parts of the country with the increase.
“It was really important that we heard the recommendation of the minimum wage committee and again, acknowledged the hard work that they did to come up with this recommendation on the pathway to get to $15,” said Balser.
“We know that it was important for so many Nova Scotians that we now see a clear pathway and that we will be following other jurisdictions.”
The committee submitted their final report at the end of 2021. The plan detailed a minimum wage increase by 40 cents an hour to $13.35 in April 2022 based on the national consumer price index, with a second boost to $13.60 in October 2022.
A consumer price index measures changes in prices over time.
“The government has a role in setting a fair minimum wage rate and independent business owners have the option to set a competitive rate to attract and retain workers,” said Premier Tim Houston in Thursday’s release.
“I want to talk with the members of the committee and hear more from employees and businesses before taking action.”
An average of eight per cent of Nova Scotians worked for minimum wage from April 2020 to March 2021. Primary industries included retail, food, and accommodation industries.
“It has been an incredibly difficult year of course with the pandemic and we really wanted to make sure that businesses as well as employers, and employees were heard when we took some time to take some extra consultations on this particular matter,” said Balser.
“As a new government, this is our first opportunity to identify solutions and set the minimum wage rate,” she said in the release.
However, as the COVID-19 reopening plan begins, not all employers agree with the province’s stance on what businesses need during the pandemic. But while their employees can expect support, Houston said that businesses shouldn’t hold their breath.
While Balser noted that “economic challenges” are faced “across all sectors,” she stressed the importance of ensuring the economy “can grow in a fair and balanced way,” while “working Nova Scotians are paid a fair wage.”