Yukon government abandons working poor, rejects minimum wage review

$11.32 minimum wage leaves Yukon workers living in poverty

The Yukon NDP denounces the Liberal government’s decision to reject a review of Yukon’s minimum wage. Takhini-Kopper King MLA Kate White tabled a motion to initiate the review ahead of BC’s minimum wage hike scheduled for September of this year. The motion was called for debate this afternoon and voted down by government and Yukon Party MLAs.

“Yukon’s minimum wage – at only $11.32 – is a poverty wage. No one working a full-time job should have to rely on the food bank to feed themself and their family, but this is a reality for many Yukoners,” said White. “Why is the government sitting back while many Yukon workers are stuck in a cycle of poverty?”

White pointed to the fact that Yukon’s minimum wage is trailing behind both other territories, Alberta and Ontario. With BC poised to increase its minimum wage in September and Alberta’s scheduled increase to $15 by next year, a review would have allowed Yukon to remain competitive with neighboring jurisdictions. The process would have also provided the government with current information and supported their claim to evidence-based decision making.

Yukon NDP Leader Liz Hanson also pointed to extensive Canadian research that shows that raising the minimum wage has little to no impact on employment. The move would however boost the spending power of the lowest paid workers which could in turn have a positive impact on Yukon’s economy.

“Lifting people out of poverty is not only the right thing to do but it’s the smart things to do economically. Inequalities and poverty have a cost to government, to private businesses and in turn, to all members of society” said Hanson. “The liberal government missed an opportunity to show that they are committed to ending poverty.”

White did not hide her frustration to see fellow legislators, most of whom earn over $100,000, reject a motion to review the current $11.32 minimum wage.

“When the minister says he believes the current system works, he is saying that $11.32 per hour is an acceptable wage. I couldn’t disagree more. I don’t think many people in this house understand the challenges that people working on minimum wage face on a daily basis. Poverty wages are not acceptable. We won’t give up, because Yukon workers deserve better” concluded White.