Kinew would bump minimum wage to $15

Kinew would bump minimum wage to $15

Calling the current government’s approach “misguided and wrong” NDP MLA Wab Kinew said he would hike minimum wage in Manitoba if elected premier.

Kinew, the Fort Rouge MLA who remains the lone contender for the NDP leadership, held a press conference Thursday to announce his intention to raise the minimum wage in the province to $15 an hour in his first mandate if elected premier in 2020.

Kinew said minimum wage, currently $11 an hour, needs to rise to be more in line with the province’s low-income cut off, which is $15.35.

“No one who is working full time should live in poverty. So, the first way to get there is to raise the minimum wage to 15 and, from there, move towards the living wage target,” Kinew said.

“… As we go out further and further into the future, we know that that low-income cut-off is going to rise over the years, so that’s why it’s important to have that moving target like the living wage.”

Kinew said he’s heard from Manitobans who say they’re unable to supply for their family.

“For people who have one job and they’re earning the current minimum wage, it’s not enough to make ends meet, so they’re struggling, they’re making decisions about whether to buy food or clothes this month and they’re using food banks to fill in the other needs that they have,” he said. “Then other people are putting two or three jobs together, so they’re working well over 40 hours per week at two different workplaces in order to get enough money to get by.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said 95% of small businesses in Manitoba already pay above minimum wage and steady increases to the wage in the province led to reduced profits for 48% of Manitoba small businesses.

CFIB provincial spokesman Jonathan Alward suggested the government needs to address issues like the basic personal exemption and the gap between Manitoba and other provinces there.

“We’re first saying to government instead of just raising the minimum wage and forcing businesses to pay more in often very thin-margin industries, let these low-income earners keep more of their money so they’ll have … more disposable income,” Alward said.

Kinew acknowledged he’s heard from small businesses who are concerned if the minimum wage goes up too fast they won’t find it sustainable.

He said he’d “phase it in” so as to not have a “shock to the system” for small businesses. He said he wants larger businesses to be the first to make the move on offering a higher wage if the new minimum were to get implemented.

He said he’d offer more information on potential incentives for small business to deal with a wage hike as he rolls his campaign out more.

Twitter: @LarkinsWSun 

Published at Thu, 04 May 2017 21:47:19 +0000