Increase minimum wage to $15 by 2021, says McCurdy

Earle McCurdy is calling for a $15 minimum wage in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The NL NDP leader says the province’s minimum wage is now among the lowest in the country, largely due to the previous government’s refusal to implement adequate increases after 2010. The current Liberal government held the minimum wage review required by law earlier this year, but focused largely on whether the wage should be indexed for automatic annual increases rather than on whether the current level provides enough for workers to actually live on.

“It’s an obvious problem,” McCurdy said today. “The minimum wage, even for someone working full-time, provides an income way below the poverty line. If we decide that increases to minimum wage will be limited to some kind of inflation index, then the actual wage level will always be below the poverty line, and our minimum wage workers are condemned to poverty in perpetuity.”

McCurdy supports the concept of automatic indexing but says it’s vital to increase the minimum wage before indexing is begun. He is proposing an increase of a dollar a year beginning next year and continuing until 2021.

Recognizing the potential impact on small local businesses, McCurdy says government could combine the minimum wage increase with measures such as eliminating the small business tax, an NDP platform item since 2011.

 “The $15 minimum wage is becoming a reality in Alberta and Ontario,” he said. “We can, and should, do it here.”

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