Some Edmonton businesses vow to maintain youth wages
Published Thursday, June 6, 2019 4:12PM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 6, 2019 7:05PM MDT
Changes to youth minimum wage in Alberta will mean some young employees will take a pay cut at the end of the month.
The United Conservative government is lowering minimum wage for workers under the age of 18, who are in school, and work 28 hours per week or less, from $15 per hour to $13 per hour.
“I think it’s unfair and it’s wrong and I’m honestly a bit disappointed in our government,” said Oliver Johnson, a 14-year-old employee at Earth’s General Store.
He’s one of two employees at the store under the age of 18. But they won’t be affected by the change because their employer is one of several local businesses in Edmonton that won’t reduce young employees' pay.
“I think that’s really great. I’m glad that I do work at Earth’s General Store,” said Siri Gusdal, the other youth employed at the store.
Northern Chicken, a restaurant on 124 Street, also vows to keep wages the same.
“A 17-year-old doing the same job as an 18-year-old is worth the same money in my opinion,” said Andrew Cowan, Northern Chicken co-owner.
Premier Jason Kenney announced the changes last month as a way to help small businesses stay afloat.
“Thirteen bucks an hour is a heck of a lot more than zero bucks an hour and that’s the option here,” Kenney said at the time.
It’s not the first time young workers have gotten paid less than adults in Alberta. The last youth wage was scrapped by the Ralph Klein government in 1998.
“I did not expect to be using Ralph Klein as endorser for my positions,” Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley said with a laugh. “But you know, sometimes common sense is common sense.”
The NDP government, who raised minimum wage while in power, is also protesting the change.
“We think that this is absolutely wrong and we urge them to halt this attack on youth workers,” Notley said.
There are 36,000 employees who could be affected, but many businesses will maintain wages, and some youth already make more than minimum wage.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Bill Fortier…