Premier’s comments insulting to low-wage workers

May 11, 2016

For Immediate Release

May 11, 2016

Halifax, NS – Stephen McNeil’s immediate dismissal yesterday of the NDP’s call for a $15 minimum wage shows disdain for low-wage workers struggling to get by.

“The Premier’s disdain for low-wage workers is very clear.  He refuses to say whether he thinks the minimum wage is too low, or if he thinks the minimum wage is a poverty wage,” says NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “To dismiss the idea without any discussion or debate is deeply insulting to the 130,000 workers in Nova Scotia who are struggling to get by on less than $15 an hour.”

The Premier made a vague suggestion about increasing the basic personal exemption at some point in the future.  Increasing the exemption does very little to increase the purchasing power of low-wage workers.  The Premier also claimed that increasing the minimum wage would cause prices to rise.  Plenty of research has proven this to be false, including a recent study from the University of Washington, which shows that Seattle’s increase in the minimum wage had “little or no effect” on prices. (http://www.washington.edu/news/2016/04/18/early-analysis-of-seattles-15-wage-law-effect-on-prices-minimal-one-year-after-implementation/)

“Vague suggestions of assistance in the future are not what is required.  We need to put more money in people’s pockets.  Low-wage workers will spend this money in the local economy, helping to boost consumer demand,” says Burrill.  “Inflation is not the problem in Nova Scotia.  The problem is that our province has the second lowest weekly wages in the country, after only PEI, and behind New Brunswick and Newfoundland.”

“The issue is very clear.  People have to live,” concludes Burrill.


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