US and Canada Minimal Wages

Citizen Wealth Community Organizing Financial Justice

minimum_wageSilver Springs We are at the time of the year when finally some minimum wage workers get a raise.  Praise be!

This is the last scheduled increase since the 2007 amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act.   For those of you who can’t remember, here’s a reminder from the DOL website:  The 2007 amendments increased the minimum wage to $5.85 per hour effective July 24, 2007; $6.55 per hour effective July 24, 2008; and $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009.

Fox News and the Wall Street Journal have been hoping to get something going that might delay the increase, but there’s no political traction since an estimated 10 million US workers would get a much needed bump.  Quoting Kris Maher in the Journal:

The impact of the higher minimum wage will resonate even beyond that group of earners and industries. Economists say there are 2.8 million workers earning between the current federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour and the new minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which takes effect on July 24 and has had no signs of delay from legislators. But some estimates figure an additional seven million workers are affected because their wages are tied to the minimum and will go up accordingly.

And again later in the article the favorable impact was hard to ignore:

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the minimum-wage increase will add $5.5 billion to the economy, and that this money is likely to be readily spent by low-wage workers, giving a boost to local economies. Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the liberal think tank in Washington, argues that “it is actually a good time” for an increase in the minimum wage.

This was also on my mind having recently come from Canada, where frankly, I always assume that workers get a fairer shake, but as ACORN Canada pushes for living wage measures in Ottawa and other cities, we are finding some friends and other folks have deceived themselves about this problem just as I have.  Some of us got into a confusing discussion and almost an argument with some friends about whether or not British Columbia, which has had no increase in 8 or 9 years, was lower than the Maritime Provinces, which no one wanted to believe.  Yes, friends, they are tied for the bottom as the charge below will show.

Here’s what may be even more insulting.  When American workers go up in a couple of weeks to $7.25 USD, that’s the equivalent of $8.44 in Canadian dollars, so unbelievably Canadian workers will be making less in a number of provinces or doing almost as badly as American workers.  How did we come to such a terrible turn in the road?

Minimum Wage in Canada

Updated: 07/02/09

Province General Wage More Information
Alberta $8.80 Alberta Employment and Immigration
BC $8.00 B.C. Ministry of Labour
Manitoba $8.75 Manitoba Labour
New Brunswick $8.00 New Brunswick Employment Standards
Newfoundland $9.00 Labour Relations Agency
NWT $8.25
Nova Scotia $8.60 Environment and Labour
Nunavut $10.00
Ontario $9.50 Ministry of Labour
PEI $8.20 Community and Cultural Affairs
Quebec $9.00 Commission des normes du travail
Saskatchewan $9.25 Saskatchewan Labour
Yukon $8.89

The time is past due for some serious changes in the North.  Meanwhile, we need to start making a plan for the next raises before this slips by us again for endless years.