The Saskatchewan government raises the minimum wage to $13 an hour in October and announces it will raise it to $15 in 2024.
On Monday, Premier Scott Moe announced during question period that the provincial government was considering raising the minimum wage based on the market and said the increase would be “substantial”.
Saskatchewan has the lowest minimum wage in Canada at $11.81 per hour.
On Tuesday, the government announced that the minimum wage would increase over the next three years. In October it will increase to $13, in October 2023 it will increase to $14 and in October 2024 it will reach $15.
The province says it has a formula based on the rate of inflation that dictates how much the salary increases each year. Moe said Monday that after the hike, Saskatchewan would revert to the next formula.
Before the last increase in October, the minimum wage was $11.45. Alberta’s minimum wage has been $15 since 2018.
When the increase takes effect, Saskatchewan will have the second-lowest minimum wage. Manitoba will hit $12.35 in October. New Brunswick’s hourly wage will drop from $12.75 to $13.75 in October.
“World events continue to put upward pressure on the cost of living in Saskatchewan and across Canada,” Labor Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said in a statement.
“Our government is committed to making life affordable for our low-income residents by raising the minimum wage over the next three years. This commitment to affordability will support Saskatchewan workers and ensure that Saskatchewan is the best place to live, work and raise a family.”
Opposition and labor groups have been calling for a $15 minimum wage in the province for some time.
On Monday, NDP MP Nicole Sarauer said the timing of the announcement was unusual as stakeholders like the Saskatchewan Federation of Labor received no warning.
The government statement said the increase moved away from the formula for the next three years to “reflect a decision to align workers’ wages more closely with changing market forces”.
“As we continue to develop Saskatchewan, we want to attract investment and quality jobs so that all citizens can benefit. Making this change to the minimum wage is a step in that direction,” Morgan said.
“There is still a long way to go”: the president of the SFL
The Saskatchewan Federation of Labor (SFL), which represents more than 100,000 employees, said it welcomes the news of the wage hike, but is calling for the minimum wage to be immediately $15 an hour and increases from there. Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, and the opposition NDP have echoed the call.
“It’s a start. And I think it’s going to help people who work and earn minimum wage. We still have a long way to go,” said SFL president Lori Johb.
In two years, the minimum wage should be $20 an hour, Johb said.
“We’ve passed the $15 an hour minimum wage mark, which actually means a living wage,” said NDP Associate Labor Critic Jennifer Bowes.
Minister Morgan said the pay rise is staggered over time to give businesses time to adjust. He predicts that 45,000 workers will be affected by the change.