$15/hour minimum wage campaign launches in NB

Written by Tracy Glynn on December 1, 2015

Joanne Petitpas

Joanne Petitpas, co-chair of the NB Common Front for Social Justice, speaking to the media at the Saint John news conference that announced the $15+Justice campaign on Nov. 23, 2015. Photo: NB Common Front for Social Justice.

The NB Common Front for Social Justice, backed by 27 community and labour organizations, is calling on the New Brunswick government to implement a $15/hour minimum wage.

New Brunswick’s minimum wage, $10.30/hour, is the lowest in Canada. The province promises to raise the minimum wage to $11/hour by 2017 but the Common Front argues that it is not enough for workers.

“Presently, these workers are paid an inadequate salary and have to rely on the provincial employment standards legislation for protection in the workplace. If it wasn’t for the provincial and federal child benefits and credits, the situation of these workers’ families would be even more disastrous than what it is,” reads the Common Front’s statement.

The Common Front says raising the minimum wage to a more decent wage of $15/hour would benefit 20,900 minimum wage earners in the province, 13,100 of whom are identified as women. The anti-poverty group notes that the province’s minimum wage earners often work in non-unionized workplaces in the retail, cultural, accommodation and food services sectors.

The Common Front stresses that the number of workers receiving minimum wage and working part-time in New Brunswick has more than doubled in a decade, rising from 4,200 in 2004 to 11,200 in 2014. According to the group, half of the province’s minimum wage earners are employed full-time and 65% of them are 20 years old and older.

The Common Front has prepared documents that explain their suggested amendments on sick leave, overtime pay, the purchase and cleaning of uniforms and pay equity.

The group has also made available analysis of the financial situation of the province’s minimum wage earners: “Our minimum wage brings a net annual income that does not permit an individual, a single parent family or a couple with children to provide for all of their basic needs. We have analyzed the economic situation of seven different types of families, and we have discovered that their annual deficit falls between $1,501 and $12, 661.”

The $15/hour wage became a 2015 federal election issue when the NDP promised to implement a $15/hour wage and the Liberals responded to the promise saying that such a plan would not benefit workers since the provinces regulate the minimum wage. The NDP pointed out that it would benefit some 100,000 minimum wage earners in federal sectors, including rail and air transportation, telecommunications, banks, uranium mining, Crown corporations and those on First Nation reserves.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the organization that lobbies on behalf of small business owners, is actively opposing a minimum wage increase.

The $15/hour wage has been been implemented in Seattle, Washington and Los Angeles, California. The State of New York has promised to phase-in a $15/hour wage for fast food workers.

The Common Front welcomes endorsements for their $15/hour campaign from groups as well as individuals. Individuals are being asked to sign a symbolic cheque from the Government of New Brunswick owing its workers a $15/hour minimum wage and fair employment standards. These cheques will be sent to all provincial ministers throughout the year long campaign.

Comments are closed.