2 December 2021 – For Immediate Release
FREDERICTON, NB – The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is concerned for small businesses with the dramatic increase in the province’s minimum wage announced earlier today by Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder.
“Less than 5% of New Brunswick’s workforce makes minimum wage – many in entry-level positions – but a large portion of these workers are in the sectors that have been hit hardest by the pandemic,” said Krista Ross, chamber CEO. “These businesses will now be further challenged to recover – not all of them will.”
New Brunswick’s Employment Standards Act requires the government to review minimum wage every two years – this is due in 2022. This process statutorily requires consultation with stakeholder groups – including employers. The most recent review would have seen an increase in minimum wage on April 1 based on the Consumer Price Index – the system implemented during the previous three statutory reviews. This was the expectation of the business community.
“The government’s choice to deviate from an established process that allows for stakeholder groups to provide input is frustrating as the very reasons for the statutory review process is to provide government with the perspective needed to make knowledgeable decisions,” added Ross. “It was very disappointing that government chose to ignore the legislation.”
Raising the low-income tax threshold, investing in affordable housing, coming to an agreement with the federal government on childcare and providing more direct support to individuals would be better policy levers – and not on the backs of the province’s smallest and most vulnerable businesses.
“Particularly given the other, better options the government has to help vulnerable people – using a blunt instrument like dramatically raising the minimum wage seems like the policy decision that will provide the most pain to business while providing the least benefit to those it proports to help,” said Ross. “Studies are at best inconclusive on whether raising the minimum wage will be beneficial to workers as they reduce employment opportunities and contribute to the inflationary environment.”
The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, a nationally accredited organization with more than 1,000 members, is an active business organization engaged in policy development and advocacy that affects the competitiveness of our members and the Canadian business environment. The Chamber’s vision is ‘Community Prosperity Through Business’.
Contact: Krista Ross, CEO – (506) 458-8006