Labour says Alberta's minimum wage hike not nearly enough

An Alberta labour organization says the province's 40-cent wage hike on April Fool's Day is a sad joke.

The increase, effective Tuesday, boosts Alberta's minimum wage to $8.40 an hour from $8.

The Alberta Federation of Labour said the province's high cost of living means the minimum wage should be set closer to $12 an hour.

"At the new level of $8.40, our minimum wage won't even come close to being a living wage," Federation president Gil McGowan said in a release issued Monday.

He said Alberta should be leading the country in terms of minimum wage, given its booming economy.

With the hike, the province boasts the third highest minimum wage in Canada, behind Ontario with $8.75 and Manitoba at $8.50.

The province automatically adjusts its minimum wage every April based on the average weekly wage index that consists of data on jobs, payroll and hours compiled by Statistics Canada.

McGowan says that's a good thing, but adds the government needs to get the base right.

According to the province, about 3.5 per cent of working Albertans, or 70,000 people, make minimum wage. The majority are teenagers working in the food and hospitality industries.

Many businesses in the fast-food industry already pay their employees more than the minimum wage because of the province's labour shortage., Tues Apr 1 2008

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