Alberta’s $10.20/hour minimum wage is the lowest country – but in just three years, it will become Canada’s highest, increasing by an unprecedented 50% to $15/hour.
The NDP had previously argued for a federal wage increase and will now have a chance to implement it on a provincial level after claiming majority power in Alberta earlier this month.
And just like in Los Angeles, which recently also committed to raising its minimum wage to $15/hour, no one really seems to know what kind of impact such a drastic raise will have.
It’s something that I don’t know the answer to,” said University of British Columbia economist David Green. “There is no research that I know of on the employment effects of staging a minimum wage change.
Green has also authored The Case for Raising the Minimum Wage, so his doubts come across as a little concerning. He added that layoffs will be inevitable, businesses will automate jobs, and prices will increase.
University of Toronto economist Morley Gunderson piled on the ambiguity: “High-quality studies that look at minimum wage hikes and related job losses are inconclusive, with some finding an adverse impact and others finding none.” He went on to use the terms ‘little evidence’ and ‘not clear’ in talking about how a higher minimum eases poverty or increases wages up the line.
There does, however, seem to be a consensus on one fact: young people will be the first to endure any negative repercussions from the wage hike.
According to the Edmonton Journal, five studies in Canada have found that for every 10-per-cent increase in the minimum wage, there is a roughly three- to six-per-cent reduction in jobs for teens and young people.
The good news? Those between 18 and 25 in the province earn $18 on average, and only around 40,000 Albertans currently live on the $10.20 hourly minimum. The ramifications of a $15/minimum would be much sharper on a national scale, where seven per cent of Canadians earn the provincial minimum.
It would probably be a good guess to say Alberta isn’t too pleased about being Canada’s testing ground.