Minimum wage increase was 'wrong' but UCP platform committed to keep it: Kenney
EDMONTON -- Alberta Premier Jason Kenney responded Thursday to allegations from NDP Leader Rachel Notley that his government is considering rolling back Alberta’s $15 an hour minimum wage.
In the legislature, Kenney said former Premier Notley was “wrong” to raise the minimum hourly rate by more than $4 in less than three years, but pointed to his election promise to “retain the general $15 minimum wage.”
“With respect to the minimum wage, the question is answered in our platform black and white,” Kenney said.
Kenney then went on to criticize the $15 rate, which he said was passed by an “anti-growth” NDP government and partially responsible for “putting 180,000 Alberta’s out of work.”
“They killed tens of thousands of jobs for vulnerable people, entry level people, folks at the margins of the labour market, young people and single moms...whose jobs were taken away by a 50 per cent increase in wage rates in the middle of a recession,” Kenney said.
“They were wrong to do so, that’s why we’re working to get the economy back on track,” he added.
The NDP gradually raised the general minimum wage in Alberta from $10.20 in 2015 to $15 per hour in 2018.
The UCP rolled back wages for workers under 18 to $13 per hour in 2019.
Notley defended the $15 minimum and said any rollback would be “cruel and unfair.”
“From October 2015 to August 2018 sales jobs went up, retail jobs went up, restaurant receipts went up. You know what didn’t go up? Child poverty. 40,000 children in this province lifted out of poverty during that time because of the minimum wage,” Notley told Kenney.
On Wednesday, Kenney said that his Minister of Finance will table an economic recovery strategy later this month and that the UCP “will do everything in our power to get this economy moving again to protect jobs and livelihoods.”
CTV News Edmonton requested clarification of the government's plans Wednesday night, but two government spokespeople declined to answer questions.
Christine Myatt, press secretary for the premier, said she had “nothing to add” to Kenney’s comments in the legislature Wednesday.