Another pay increase starts this weekend for Manitoba’s minimum wage earners and some Steinbach employers wonder how this will affect inflation.
Effective April 1, the new minimum wage will be $14.15 an hour. There will be another increase on October 1, 2023 which will bring the minimum hourly wage to $15.30.
“Businesses want families to have a living wage, and this is understandably also good for the community," says Gwen Reimer, executive director for the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce. “The danger though in some of this is that a wage increase may just push inflation even higher, and subsequently mean that the goods and services that should now be affordable at a higher wage, will also have risen in cost.”
Reimer says many businesses have suffered financially during the past two years and employers are looking for ways to reduce their costs wherever possible so they can offer affordable prices.
Some places might be considering smaller staff sizes and having fewer people working certain shifts, she says.
“Some businesses will automate things, so they don’t have as much manual labour for their items and possibly eliminate jobs altogether,” Reimer reports.
She notes the province is offering some financial support to help employers through the series of increases to the minimum wage.
March 31 is the deadline to apply for support through the Small Business Minimum Wage Adjustment Program. Reimer says there are other programs to also help Manitoba businesses and the Chamber of Commerce wants to help employers find all the support that is available.
Until recently, Manitoba’s minimum wage was expected to reach $15 an hour by October, but that amount changed earlier this month.
Manitoba Labour and Immigration Minister Jon Reyes announced that Manitoba minimum wage earners will be making $3.35 per hour more than they were in September 2022 following several increases that position Manitoba as one of the top minimum wage provinces in Canada.
“Recognizing the exceptional financial challenges facing Manitobans, our government passed legislative amendments to the Employment Standards Code that, in prescribed circumstances, allow minimum wage to be increased by an additional amount above the legislated inflation-tied formula,” said Reyes. “To balance the financial realities of Manitoba workers and the economic challenges for small businesses, we implemented a phased-in approach that will help more Manitobans get ahead.”