Manitoba: Minimum Wage to Be Inflation-Indexed

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By Jeremy Hainsworth

Manitoba's minimum wage would rise every October in accordance with a formula linked to Canada’s rate of inflation under a bill currently before the provincial legislature (Bill 33, The Minimum Wage Indexation Act) that would amend the Employment Standards Code. The province’s minimum wage is currently C$11 ($8.14) per hour.

“It’s predictable,” University of Manitoba Asper School of Business business administration instructor Sean MacDonald said of the proposed legislation. “From a business point of view, it’s at a reasonable level.”

“Business would love it,” MacDonald told Bloomberg BNA May 31. “I think labor groups would hate it.”

‘Looking for Consistency'

Under Bill 33, an adjusted wage would be arrived at by multiplying the existing wage by the result of dividing the consumer price index from the previous calendar year by the consumer price index of the year before that. The government would be allowed to freeze the minimum wage in the event of a recession or economic downturn.

“When we consulted with Manitobans, they were looking for consistency,” Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade Cliff Cullen told the provincial legislature May 23. “They were looking for predictability, and I think that's what this bill provides Manitobans. It certainly provides that predictability going forward. Certainly, the business community has said they liked the predictability.”

In MacDonald's view, labor groups would likely see the change as too low, especially given the trend in some other jurisdictions—including Alberta and Ontario—toward a “living wage” of C$15 ($11.18) an hour.

The Manitoba government has a significant parliamentary majority, and the bill’s passage is assured.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hainsworth in Vancouver at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

For More Information

Full text of Bill 33, The Minimum Wage Indexation Act, is available here.

For more information on Manitoba HR law and regulation, see the Manitoba primer.

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