Sea-ing is believing

Unfair warning
P.E.I. businesses peeved about the lack of advance notice on latest minimum wage hike

Small-and-medium-sized businesses in P.E.I. are getting weary of minimum wage increases in the province.

On April 1, the minimum wage in the province increased by 25 cents—to $11.25 an hour from $11 an hour. It was the third increase to the minimum wage in the past 10 months and the sixth increase since June 1, 2014. Changes to the minimum wage always impact businesses, but what’s upset P.E.I.’s small-and-medium-sized business community this time around is it was given just 37 days’ notice of the increase by the provincial government.

“This is unacceptable and does not provide businesses with sufficient notice to work increases into their pricing and business plans,” wrote Erin McGrath-Gaudet, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ director for P.E.I. and intergovernmental policy, in a letter to the province’s Workforce and Advanced Learning Minister, Sonny Gallant.

So what would be acceptable to the more than 1,000 small-andmedium- sized businesses the CFIB represents in P.E.I.? McGrath-Gaudet says they want certainty. They’ve got it as far as when changes will take place. The provincial government has made it clear that future changes to the minimum wage will take effect on April 1. But what’s perhaps more important to businesses is when a change is announced. Currently the government could announce a minimum wage increase as late as March 31. “But if they did that, I would get really angry,” she says.

Instead of angering business owners, the CFIB wants the provincial government to develop a process where businesses have more time to adjust to minimum wage increases. The good news, McGrath-Gaudet notes, is the Liberal government is open to discussing the issue. “We’ve always said six months’ notice would be good. It allows people to plan.” she says.

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