HALIFAX, N.S. –
The New Brunswick government says it will increase the minimum wage by $2 per hour in 2022. The 17 per cent increase represents the most significant jump in the rate since 1980.
A scheduled increase of $1 per hour in April and another $1 per hour increase in October will boost the province’s minimum wage to $13.75 per hour, the top rate in Atlantic Canada.
“New Brunswickers are having a hard time making ends meet, and the current minimum wage has many people concerned,” said Trevor Holder, Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister.
“Having represented an economically diverse area for many years, I have learned first-hand the challenges they are facing every day.”
According to the province, New Brunswick currently has the lowest minimum wage in the country and is lower than the rates in the other Atlantic provinces by significant margins. Since 2019, the median wage in the province has increased by 14 per cent compared with a two per cent increase in the minimum wage.
“We realize that given the current economic conditions, these additional increases are critically important,” said Holder.
“This increase will help improve the standard of living of our lower-wage earners and ensure we are competitive with our neighbouring provinces.”
This adjustment will benefit about 15,500 minimum wage earners, as well as 30,000 New Brunswickers who make more than the present minimum wage but less than $13.75 per hour.
According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), the government’s decision to increase the minimum wage without consultation comes at the worst possible time for small businesses. The federation says only 39 per cent of the province’s small businesses are at normal revenues and many are operating at a loss.
“This will not help to address New Brunswick’s labour challenges,” said Louis-Philippe Gauthier, CFIB’s senior director of legislative affairs, Atlantic.
“The tightness in the labour market is already having an impact on wages—this decision by government will add even more pressure on the wage scales of employers who are paying above the minimum wage.”
In a recent CFIB survey, the increasing cost of doing business was the top concern of small business owners at 76 per cent, followed by supply chain challenges at 64 per cent.