Minimum wage increase a step in the right direction

We have seen a glimpse of how the NDP government will be running things.

Now that the provincial government has wrapped up their spring sitting in the Legislature, we have seen a glimpse, however small, of how the NDP government will be running things.

The list of the achievements the new NDP government has completed over the past two weeks reads like a laundry list – freezing tuition increases for two years, cancelling healthcare budget cuts, reversing education cutbacks, restoring funding to Child Support Services and apologizing on behalf of the province to indigenous people for the decades of abuse in residential schools.

Most recently, on Monday, the NDP announced a provincial minimum wage increase that will rise a dollar a year, to a total of $15 per hour by 2018.

Starting on Oct. 1st, the minimum wage will increase from $10.20 to $11.20 per hour.

The liquor server minimum wage, that split the provincial minimum wage into two tiers which many considered unfair, will be completely eliminated by 2016.

The liquor server minimum wage will increase from $9.20 to $10.70 per hour also on Oct. 1st.

These changes are a direct follow up on one of the main NDP campaign promises and hopefully it sits well with Albertans.

Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour Lori Sigurdson said the NDP government has been listening closely to Albertans and have attempted to take all of the various views and suggestions into account.

Premier Rachel Notley stated the province’s minimum wage is the lowest in Canada, yet Alberta has one of the highest costs of living. She added this, “Significant step” is one of the many that will help achieve the NDP’s goal for 2015.

Sue Tomney, CEO of YMCA of Calgary, said in a press conference the minimum wage issue is a, “Women’s issue.” She said increasing the minimum wage is a step forward to ensuring women are earning a wage that allows them to not only support their families, but thrive.

It’s really refreshing to see a government get things done and also be willing to work with other opposing parties.

Meanwhile, Premier Notley said she welcomes debate in the Legislature and thinks it’s a healthy part of democracy. She also said on more than one occasion the NDP will be actively working with those across the floor, the Wildrose opposition and other opposing party MLAs to effect change, especially in restoring transparency and accountability – a goal that was exactly what the Wildrose Party ran as their election platform.

This attitude towards openness and working together should be embraced. Albertans may all not view increasing the minimum wage as a positive, but in the long run, it is a much-needed step in the right direction.