Sask minimum wage to go up by 36 cents this October

Herald file photo.

Saskatchewan’s minimum wage will increase by 36 cents this year. As of Oct. 1, the wage will go from $11.45 per hour to $11.81.

The province reviews its minimum wage on an annual basis. The wage is indexed to a formula that gives equal weight to the consumer price index and average hourly wage.

“Dealing with COVID-19 over the past year and a half has been a difficult time for everyone in Saskatchewan,” Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said in a press release. “The provincial government has a strong framework in place to ensure that we are supporting both businesses and workers as we move into recovery after the pandemic. As life returns to normal, sustainable and predictable increases to our minimum wage help ensure that everyone will be able to benefit from a strong and growing Saskatchewan in the future.”

The Saskatchewan NDP and labour groups decried the increase as far from adequate.

The NDP called the increase “abysmal.” It will raise the wage from the lowest to the second-lowest in Canada. Only New Brunswick will have a lower minimum wage than Saskatchewan. The minimum wage in New Brunswick is $11.75 per hour.

Leader Ryan Meili called it an insult to front-line workers who made sacrifices during the pandemic.

Workers in this province have done everything that the government and public health officials have asked of them – and in return, Premier Scott Moe has rewarded them with the second-lowest minimum wage in Canada,” said Meili. “Saskatchewan workers deserve so much better, and the economic recovery we all want to see won’t mean much if it doesn’t include working families being able to get back on their feet.”

The NDP has joined labour advocates in calling for a minimum wage of $15 per hour, a mark believed by many critics to represent the low end of a living wage.

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour called the increase “embarrassing.”

“It’s incredibly insulting that, after what working people in Saskatchewan have been through over the past year, the provincial government would announce a raise for minimum wage workers that amounts to a small handful of change,” said Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) President Lori Johb in a press release. “These frontline heroes have been working hard over the past year in grocery stores, gas stations and many other workplaces, putting their own health and safety at risk to ensure Saskatchewan people have access to vital goods and services.”

Johb said anything less than $15 per hour is “unacceptable.”

The SFL said 60 per cent of minimum wage earners in the province are over the age of 19.

The federal government announced plans to establish a minimum wage in federally-regulated industries of $15 per hour rising with inflation. The move will benefit over 26,000 workers who make less than $15 per hour in the federally-regulated private sector.

Federally-regulated sectors include transportation, banks, First Nations except for certain on-reserve services, radio and television broadcasting, telecommunications, uranium mining and processing, grain elevators, feed and seed mills, feed warehouses and grain-seed cleaning plants.