Alberta Will Officially Increase Minimum Wage To $15

It has been one of the hottest topics since the NDP won the last provincial election in Alberta, and now it is official and on the books.

Labour Minister Christina Gray announced this week that Alberta would officially raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by Oct.1, 2018.

On Oct. 1 of this year, it will rise by $1 to $12.20 an hour and then to $13.60 next year and finally reaching $15 an hour the following year.

That means that as of this October Alberta will have the highest minimum wage of all provinces, although the territories minimum wage remains higher.

The wage will also rise for those in the service industry who have traditionally been paid less than the minimum wage, the reasoning being that they also make tips.

As of this Oct.1 the gap will be removed and servers will make the same minimum wage.

Business groups and opposition critics have been criticizing the plan since it was proposed during the election, saying that these increases are coming much too fast and will hurt businesses already suffering in this economy.

Ric McIver, leader of the Progressive Conservatives in the province, was disappointed with the decision

“The biggest group they’re going to hurt is low-income and poor Albertans, because there will be thousands of hours of work eliminated that would have otherwise been available,” he said. “Today is a very sad commentary on the state of our government.”

Craig Alexander, senior vice-president and chief economist with the Conference Board of Canada, He said in an interview with Global News that when the minimum wage remains around half or less of the average wage, the impact on employment is limited and the average wage in Alberta in August was nearly $30.

Frances Woolley, professor of Economics at Carleton University pointed out that phasing it in will help business plan for increase labour costs.

“From a labour market aggregate point of view as a whole, I don’t think that the negative impacts are going to be very significant," he pointed out.

According to a report by Public Interest Alberta, nearly one in five Alberta workers earns $15 per hour or less.

And it isn’t just teens getting their first job.

The study showed that 77 per cent of low wage earners are age 20 or older, more than 22 per cent of low-wage workers are 45 or older and 60 per cent of low-wage Alberta workers are women.

Whether you agree with the increase or not, the fact is, it is now officially coming.


How to Prepare Yourself in the Face of Job Loss

With 2015 the worst year for job loss in Alberta since 1982, job security is still a fear for many Albertans.

Even if you know it’s coming, no one is ever fully prepared for that awful moment when the big boss calls you into the office and gives you the, “Thank you for your service” speech. Sometimes the speech is skipped altogether.

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But there are plans workers can put in place when termination seems imminent. Here are some strategies to protect workers in the case of looming job loss:

1.     Have a resume ready

The first thing most people who are laid off are tasked with doing is finding a new job, which is no easy feat — especially in today’s economic climate. Even if you currently have a steady job, it doesn’t hurt to iron out your resume.

Resumes should be polished, up-to-date and include your current job and references. The Alberta government offers resume review services  and most municipalities offer local services as well.

2.     Legal rights

In the case of job loss, many employers will offer settlements or severance packages. Even though they might look fair, or even more than expected, it is still your right as a worker to investigate your worth.

Contacting a lawyer or accessing social service supports such as Alberta Works can give you a better sense of what you are entitled to as a worker and if you should take the settlement offered to you. Doing research beforehand can avoid last minute scrambles for legal aid in the case of job loss.

3.     Weighing your options

Especially if you work in the oil and gas industry, there is a possibility you may have to look down other avenues if cutbacks are pending. Even though you may have been hired for one gig, chances are you have skills for many other jobs.

The Alberta government has all sorts of career planning resources easily accessible online. In this economic climate, it never hurts to have a plan B.

Download Our Guide On How To Protect Yourself In This Economy

4.     Are you protected?

Depending on where you work, being part of a labour union can be a lifesaver when facing job loss. Whether you’re supporting a family or starting out your career alone, getting laid off is not something any one wants to deal with alone.

Having a union to back you up when facing cut backs or job loss is so important. It is also a great place to start when understanding you rights as a worker and how collective bargaining can protect you. Being part of a union can also protect your seniority and qualification for all classifications in the workplace.


Survivor Guilt: How Layoffs Can Change The Workplace For Those Who Remain

It may not be something you think about all the time, but your coworkers can often become a second family. You see them almost every day and they become part of your life and even sometimes close friends.

With the downturn in the Alberta economy, more and more people have been experiencing layoffs and work ‘families’ have been torn apart.

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Something that is not talked about enough when it comes to layoffs is what psychologists have termed ‘survivors guilt.’  There are a number of ways people deal with the layoff of a co-worker, but there are some symptoms that managers and fellow coworkers should be aware of.

Struggle with guilt

There is the thought of ‘why was that person let go and not me?’ that is so often associated with survivors guilt. It can be a confusing time because of the relief workers feel when they are not let go, but then the grief they feel for their fellow coworkers. When that coworker is laid off, it can feel like the loss of a friend or loved one and that can have an extreme emotional toll on individuals and the entire office.

Psychologists have pointed out that people with survivors guilt may also suffer from emotional contagion, known as the tendency ‘pick up your laid-off colleagues’ feelings of gloom and desperation.' This can be especially hard for union workers who may have a 'recall right' in their collective agreement, meaning 'the right of an employee on a layoff to be called back to work by his or her employer under a term or condition of employment.' Seeing them again may only add to that guilt and the stress felt by people still there.

Increase to workload and burnout

Not only are people dealing with the loss of a coworker, but they are often expected to pick up the extra workload and inherit a lot of new responsibilities from the people who have left. There can be a situation where the person may have been removed, but all of their workload remains only adding to the stress of the people who still work there.

Anxiety and Pressure 

Once layoffs start happening, the pressure to keep a job creates a cut-throat culture.  With cuts looming throughout Alberta, many employees can't help but wonder if they are next. This can lead to anxiety and a complete change in identity for the entire company. This can sometimes be more damaging than what the person who was laid-off may feel themselves.

Download Our Guide On How To Protect Yourself In This Economy

Expected to Jump Back in the Saddle

When coworkers are laid off, there is no time for grieving the loss. You have to get back to work, especially if your workload is increased. However, the anxiety and stress that people feel from survivors guilt can often lead to ‘reduced commitment and productivity.’ The fear of being the next one to go can cause many to ‘freeze up’ and get less work done or have to work longer hours to get it done.

If you or someone you know is really struggling with anxiety or depression during these economic times it is important to reach out for help. In Calgary you can call the Distress Centre 24 hour crisis line at 403-266-4357 and in Edmonton 780-482- 4357.