Pallister Government Must Not Let Minimum-Wage Earners Slide Into Poverty

The Pallister Government must commit to raising the minimum wage this year to ensure workers are compensated fairly and can make ends meet, NDP MLA Tom Lindsey said today.

“Anyone who works hard and earns a minimum wage should be able to put a roof over their head and afford their basic needs,” Lindsey said. “We raised the minimum wage every year after consulting with employers and employees to help hard-working Manitobans support themselves. It’s not good enough for the premier to give himself and his cabinet ministers huge wage increases this year while saying no to low-income workers and their families.”

On Oct. 1, 2015, the NDP government increased the minimum wage to $11, putting an additional $445 per year into the pockets of full-time hard-working minimum-wage workers after taxes, Lindsey noted. Without a raise in the minimum wage this year, inflation will cut about $400 from a minimum-wage earner’s spending power, he added.

“That’s $400 less to buy food or pay for rent, which would force minimum-wage earners to cut corners on other necessities,” Lindsey said. “The best way out of poverty is a good job that pays a living wage. Increasing tax benefits does little or nothing for low-income people.”

The minimum wage was $6 at the time the NDP took office. While the NDP government raised the minimum wage every year, it also reduced and then eliminated the nine per cent small business tax – the first province to do so, Lindsey noted. A balanced approach works well for workers and employers, Lindsey added.

“Our balanced approach made sure small business could remain competitive while ensuring minimum-wage earners were getting an annual raise,” Lindsey said. “The annual raise puts more money into the pockets of workers than merely raising the basic exemption, which we also raised eight times.”