$15 minimum wage needed now to close gap with living wage

MLA Kate White asks Minister to respect his own word and initiate Legislative review 

Yukon NDP MLA Kate White pressed the Community Service Minister to take immediate action to increase the minimum wage as Yukon is poised to trail BC, Alberta, NWT and Nunavut within a few months. Yukon’s minimum wage currently sits at $11.32 per hour and has not had an increase beyond inflation adjustments in five years.

“Everybody knows that you can’t live on $11.32 an hour in Yukon. Yukoners who have a full time job shouldn’t have to rely on the food bank to feed their family” said White. “Why is this government giving corporations a 20% tax break on profits over half a million dollars while continuing to let Yukoners live on poverty wages? It makes no economic sense.”

In response to White’s question last Thursday, the Community Services Minister indicated that his government is satisfied with the $0.25 inflation adjustment and that he has no intention of raising the minimum wage. Stating that Yukon’s minimum wage was the 5th highest in the country, the Minister also indicated that should it drop to the 6th position, a review would take place in the Legislature.

With BC’s minimum wage scheduled to increase to $11.35 on September 15th of this year, Yukon’s minimum wage will be pushed to the 6th position triggering the legislative review. Yesterday, White asked why the Minister would choose to wait and let Yukon workers earn poverty wages when a review won’t be triggered for another five months.

“Why would the Minister tell Yukon’s minimum wage workers to hang tight for 5 months when he knows full well that it will need to be reviewed? Our minimum wage is a poverty wage. Let’s start the review right now, there’s no reason to wait” said White.

Over the weekend, the Yukon NDP held its annual convention and adopted a $15 minimum wage campaign as a measure to start closing the gap between Yukon’s minimum wage and a living wage. The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition has determined that the living wage for a Whitehorse family of 4 with both parents working is $19.12, leaving a nearly $8 gap with Yukon’s minimum wage.