On October 1 of this year, Manitoba’s minimum wage will rise to $11.15, the first increase in two years. From 2001 to 2015 Manitoba’s minimum wage was increased every year by at least $0.20, and quite often was increased by even higher amounts. These increases were never attached to any metric or measurement, they were just imposed by the government on employers. However recently introduced legislation could make minimum wage changes less arbitrary.
Bill 33: The Minimum Wage Indexation Act, looks to adjust the minimum wage each year to match changes in the Manitoba Consumer Price Index. Before April 1 of each year, (starting in 2018) the government would be required to post what the minimum wage increase would be on October 1. In addition the legislation allows for cabinet to cancel scheduled minimum wage increases in the event of a recession, or if there is one being forecasted.
By the government using the Manitoba Consumer Price Index, minimum wage increases in Manitoba will not be tied to prices in Toronto. As well these changes will allow businesses more breathing room in tougher economic times. Most importantly though it provides a clear and transparent manner for minimum wage increases going forward. No longer will minimum wage increases be decided on the back of a napkin.
However the debate often gets stuck on what the minimum wage should be, rather than how to get people out of minimum wage jobs. Governments need to focus on providing educational and skills training programs that will help lift more minimum wage earners into higher paying positions and careers.