Island businesses cautious about an increase in minimum wage

Sept. 24, 2014

A sudden increase in the minimum wage would hurt the tourism industry the Island relies on, says the executive director of the Island’s tourism industry.
An increase should be yearly and increase with the cost of living that comes with inflation, said Don Cudmore of TAIPEI.
His comments come after federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair proposed a federal minimum wage of $15. This could put pressure on provincial governments to raise minimum wage.
It would be the consumer who would have to pay the price at the end of the day, and seasonal tourism businesses would be forced to cut staff and close earlier to maintain their already slim bottom line, said Cudmore.
“The minimum wage should follow inflation, definitely.”
If the minimum wage does have to go up, it should be a small amount every year. Seasonal businesses can handle that, said Cudmore.
“Any operator can live with that.”
Carl Pursey is the president of P.E.I.’s Federation of Labor. If the provincial government was pressured to raise the minimum wage, it would only be a small step in the right direction, he said.
The biggest challenge the Island faces now is to keep skilled workers here, instead of seeing them go west for higher paying jobs. If the provincial government could supply a decent living wage on the Island for tradespeople, many would still be here, Pursey said.
“It’s hard to find skilled people on the Island. But more money is the way to go to keep them here.”
The Island wouldn’t have to match the big money paid in the west. Many tradespeople would stay here for a decent livable income that could keep up with inflation, he said.
Inflation would render the rise in minimum wage useless by the time it came into effect, he said.
“Nobody can live on $15 after inflation.”