GNB announces $2/hour minimum wage increase

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The Higgs administration announced on Thursday, December 2 that the New Brunswick government is increasing the provincial minimum wage by $2/hour.

PETL Minister Trevor Holder making the minimum wage increase announcement on December 2. (CBC N.B./Website)

In April 2022, the first dollar increase will take place, with the second occurring in October 2022. New Brunswick currently has the lowest minimum wage in the country at $11.75, which will become $13.75 with the $2 increase.

Why is an increase in minimum wage needed in New Brunswick?

New Brunswick currently has the lowest minimum wage in Canada. (Retail Council of Canada/Website)

The increase in minimum wage will be taking place in 2022 to correct the hourly rate, according to Trevor Holder, Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training, and Labour. New Brunswick is behind in terms of paying the workers in the province an average minimum wage, whereas other Atlantic Canadian neighbours are already ahead in their strategies of implementing a higher minimum wage.

Holder stated that for a province that has been suffering from a high poverty rate, this adjustment should assist with this issue and is the right decision taken by the province.

New Brunswick has traditionally linked annual increases in the minimum wage to changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a measure of cost-of-living fluctuations. Holder said this adjustment is just a “one-time correction” that was needed to adjust the minimum wage but starting in 2023, the province will resume using CPI to adjust the rate.

Two-dollar increase insufficient

Randy Hatfield, Executive Director of the Human Development Council in Saint John, added that this new increase does not match the standards of a normal living wage, but it will be a marked improvement over the current situation.

Abram Lutes, Provincial Coordinator for N.B. Common Front for Social Justice, stated that since the increase is still not enough and the minimum wage should be set to at least $15 or even more and then be adjusted accordingly on an annual basis.

In all New Brunswick cities, the government’s wage increase is below what the Human Development Council has determined to be a livable wage. When housing, necessities, and child-care are factored in, a livable wage in 2021 ranges from $17.50 per hour in Bathurst to $21.20 per hour in Fredericton. To view this report, click here.

When was the last increase in minimum wage initiated?

This increase is following the increase made in April of 2021 of a mere five cents to $11.75/hour, which according to Holder was a very small change in the minimum wage and that it was not enough to make a significant difference in the labour market.