On January 3, 2024, Nova Scotia’s Minimum Wage Review Committee released its annual report with recommendations regarding the provincial minimum wage for the year ahead.
While recognizing the struggles that lower-income workers face with low pay and skyrocketing costs of essentials like rent and food in Nova Scotia, the committee ultimately proposes a mere $0.20 increase, to go into effect April 1.
Below, read our press release on the report and how its recommendations fall far short of what workers in this province really need.
Justice for Workers Nova Scotia (J4WNS), an organization that advocates and organizes to increase minimum labour standards and other benefits for workers in Nova Scotia, is appalled at the recommendation made by the Nova Scotia Minimum Wage Review Committee’s recently released report. The Committee’s recommendation to increase the minimum wage by 20 cents is an inadequate response to the pressures faced by lower income workers in this province.
“How does this Committee expect minimum-wage workers to afford the increased cost of living in this province?” asks Mark Cunningham, a member of J4WNS. “This recommendation is completely out of touch with the current unaffordability of the province.”
J4WNS is glad to see that Committee’s employee representative Danny Cavanaugh has issued a dissenting opinion. Cavanaugh, who is President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, correctly identifies that the province’s current formula for determining minimum wage does not result in a fair wage for workers, and does not support them in dealing with the rising costs of living.
As the Committee’s own report highlights, “An average of 6% of workers, or 26,200 Nova Scotians, worked for minimum wage during the period from April 2022 to March 2023. During this period minimum wage was $13.60 per hour, and an additional 27,700 Nova Scotians earned between $13.61 and $15.00 per hour. Minimum wage earners work primarily in retail trade and the food and accommodation industries. 56% of minimum wage earners are female, 63% are non-students, 27% are over the age of 35, 37% are employed full time, and 44% have post-secondary education.”
For the Committee to write this, and then move on to recommend only a 20-cent increase to the minimum wage, is unacceptable.
Suzanne MacNeil, another member of J4WNS, asks, “With a record number of people unhoused in this province, and many people one missed paycheck away from eviction, in what universe does a 20-cent increase to the minimum wage make sense?”
J4WNS calls on the provincial government to reject the committee’s recommendation and to immediately implement a $20/hour minimum wage, with a plan to move on towards a livable minimum wage for Nova Scotia.