February 09, 2018

Media Release -- StatsCan: Higher minimum wage provinces outperform others

Toronto, ONTARIO – Don’t believe the spin from the business press. That’s the message coming from the $15 and Fairness campaign.

According to Pam Frache, Coordinator of the Fight for $15 and Fairness, the Statistics Canada data released on February 9 show provinces that have significantly increased their minimum wage rates in 2017 are doing better than they were this time last year. What’s more, she says, these provinces are actually outperforming their lower-wage counterparts, as their unemployment rates are declining most quickly among the provinces.

Here’s what the Statistics Canada data actually say:

Canada has added 289,000 jobs while the total number of hours worked has increased by nearly three percent (2.8%). The national unemployment rate, meanwhile, has declined by 0.8 percentage points, dropping from 6.7 to 5.9 percent.

In Ontario, unemployment is falling even faster.

The data show employment in Ontario grew by 104,000 jobs year over year and the unemployment rate declined by 0.9 percentage points to 5.5% – a rate of decline that is tied for the second-fastest among provinces. While there were slightly fewer part-time jobs in January 2018 compared to January 2017, these declines were substantially outweighed by a gain of more than 150,000 full-time jobs – a sign of a strengthening labour market. These improvements took place at the same time employers were preparing for the January 1, 2018 minimum wage increase to $14.

In Alberta – the first province to chart a path to a $15 minimum wage – employment rose by 46,000 year over year, as large gains in full-time jobs more than outweighed the modest decline in part-time jobs. Alberta’s unemployment rate has fallen by 1.7 percentage points since January of last year – by far the largest decline among the six provinces with falling unemployment rates during the period.

By contrast, New Brunswick – a province with one of Canada’s lowest minimum wage rates at $11.00 – experienced an absolute drop of 5,800 in the number of jobs, pushing the unemployment rate 0.2 percentage points higher to 9.1 percent. The other three Atlantic provinces – all of which have minimum wage rates well below $12 per hour – also saw rising unemployment rates.

In Manitoba, where the minimum wage is a mere $11.15, the province experienced a small increase in part-time jobs year over year, partially offset by a decline in full-time jobs. The unemployment rate of 5.6 percent was just 0.3 percentage points lower than the previous year.

“Clearly, the data released today suggest that raising minimum wages does not lead to job loss, but in fact can contribute to a stronger economy through increased demand,” said Frache. “Moreover, raising minimum wages has a large, direct, positive impact on the incomes of low-wage workers. Suggesting otherwise is intellectually dishonest and ideologically driven.”

The Fight for $15 and Fairness is comprised of hundreds of community, labour, student and faith organizations across Ontario. http://www.15andfairness.org/ 

For more information and to arrange interviews, contact:
Pam Frache, cell: 416-578-3472 or email: info@15andFairness.org