Alberta’s minimum wage is increasing on Monday and there seems to be a split in people for and against it.
The provincial government is changing the wage from $13.60 to $15.00 on October 1, becoming the first province or territory in Canada to do so.
The Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce is worried what the increase will do to small businesses.
Executive Director Alexis Foster tells Mix News many are going to struggle to manage.
“We’re seeing them have to cut costs in other ways, from benefits or vacation time or actually having to layoff employees.”
She says many have already been struggling for years due to the economic downturn and the Horse River wildfire.
“This is just another thing that’s going to restrict them from being able to expand and grow.”
The Alberta Chambers of Commerce, which connects all provincial organizations, has raised these concerns to the provincial government – to no avail.
To ensure businesses don’t close their doors, Foster notes they’re providing key business resources to owners.
Minimum Wage Increase Needed
Not all businesses are worried about the upcoming increase.
Owner of Asti Trattoria Italiana Karen Collins says she believes the up in employee wages is a good thing.
She adds it may not even be high enough.
“The $15 really is nothing when you look at the balance of the cost of living, you need to balance the cost of living and wages. For our area, I can understand it and support it.”
Foster says this debate feels much like a ‘Catch 22’ scenario.
“We understand that people need a living wage, we want to see that – but the way this has been presented is going to impact business.”
Meanwhile, Collins has already come out publicly stating her restaurant won’t be increasing their prices.
“I see absolutely no reason to raise our prices, our staff has already been paid over minimum wage and I won’t use the excuse of an increase in minimum wage to raise the prices for our customers.”
A report recently done by Public Interest Alberta suggests that around 8,300 local workers will be getting a raise once the hike comes into effect.