Thousands of Red Deer workers affected by minimum wage freeze: Report

Public Interest Alberta has released its annual Low Wage Report which shows more than 6,000 minimum wage workers in Red Deer can legally have their wages frozen this year.

As a result, the agency says the province is missing a key opportunity to boost the economy by putting more money in the pockets of the city’s lowest wage workers.

The report, compiled with data from Statistics Canada, shows that nearly a quarter million Albertans will be affected by the provincial government’s decision to freeze minimum wage for the first time since 2010.

Inflation in Alberta was 1.3% for the past year, the agency says.

“The minimum wage freeze means a small pay cut this year, and if it continues over time, it will result in a big pay cut to the lowest wage workers who are already struggling,” said Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta.

The Low Wage Report reveals that 6,500 people working in Red Deer earn the current minimum wage of $15 per hour. More than half of them (3,600) are women and 70 per cent are 20 years of age or older.

“Rather than the popular myth of these being young teenagers getting their first experience and seeking extra spending money, minimum wage earners are overwhelmingly adults, many of whom are barely scraping by as they try to support themselves and their families,” said French.

“The gap between the rich and the poor in our province is already wide,” added French. “While minimum wage workers face an effective pay cut, the richest Canadians have had their incomes grow by 8.5%, so this freeze will make the wage gap even worse.”

The full report can be read here.