Saskatchewan’s minimum wage will increase to $13 per hour as of Oct. 1, 2022 with a plan to reach $15 an hour by 2024.
The announcement comes just one day after Premier Scott Moe publicized the possible increase of minimum wage during Question Period on Monday.
“We want to go further and that’s why the government is actively, as we speak … looking at how we can support those that are on minimum wage in this province,” he said.
Don Morgan, Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister said the provincial government is committed to making sure life is affordable for low income residents by increasing the minimum wage over the next three years, according to a press release from province.
The minimum wage in Saskatchewan will then increase to $14 per hour on Oct. 1, 2023 and to $15 on Oct. 1, 2024 – equalling a 27 per cent increase from the current minimum wage of $11.81.
These increases reflect a market adjustment instead of using the indexation formula which is traditionally used. Over the next three years, the increases to minimum wage will align more with the cost of living and changing forces in the market.
The NDP Opposition has been calling for an increase in minimum wage for a long time.
“We have the lowest minimum wage in the country,” said NDP MLA Nicole Saurer. “This is something we’ve spoken about lots. We’ve called on this premier many times to do a better job in increasing minimum wage.”
The increase of the minimum wage is a victory for working people in the province, according to the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL).
“When I heard yesterday that there was going to be an announcement, I was hoping it would be dollars and not pennies and so that is a welcome relief. At least we’re going up a substantial amount but we have a long ways to go,” said SFL President Lori Johb.
Johb said they will still continue working to fight for wages which will keep up with the cost of living.
“I think in two years time we need to be at $20 an hour. I think that’s where other provinces are going to be so we’re so far behind. It’s going to take us a long time to catch up,” she said.
CUPE is also calling for the immediate increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“Saskatchewan workers need relief now, not in months or years from now. At $11.81 per hour, full-time workers can’t afford the basic costs of living and are increasingly relying on food banks to feed their families,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan.
Sawyer Reavley and Katy Irving are students who were touring the legislative building when the minimum wage increase was announced.
You know, I’m looking to pay the rest [of University] through summer jobs so yeah, the more the better,” said Reavley.
Irving said the increase will place her on par with friends working in Ontario.
“It’s a whole three dollars difference in pay even if we work at the same institution so it’s really exciting,” she said.
The higher minimum wage will help employers attract and retain workers. The Hampton Hub restaurant on 15th Avenue already pays its employees well above the minimum wage.
“Definitely for it. It’s something that we’ve talked about here at this business is wanting to give people no matter what their position is, enough money that they can live on,” said Thabo Mthembu, Co-owner of the Hampton Hub.
A $15 minimum wage was unexpected from a provincial government that had allowed some of the lowest salaries in Canada. Now, Saskatchewan will join B.C., Alberta and Ontario with some of the highest minimum wages in the country.
The minimum wage in the province was $7.95 in 2007 and there will have been nearly an 89 per cent increase compared to that rate by 2024.
“As we continue to grow Saskatchewan, we want to attract quality investments and jobs so that all citizens can benefit. Making this change to the minimum wage is a step in that direction,” Morgan said.