Today, the government of Prince Edward Island announced that in 2016, it will subject PEI businesses to two increases in minimum wage. On June 1, 2016, minimum wage will move from $10.50 per hour to $10.75 per hour and on October 1, 2016, minimum wage will increase to $11.00 per hour.

Industry associations are frustrated with the fact that the Employment Standards Board, which is responsible for making minimum wage recommendations to the PEI government, did not consult with industry stakeholders. Furthermore, neither the Employment Standards Board nor the government notified industry stakeholders that a review was taking place.

What RCC Did / Next Steps:

RCC spoke with the Deputy Minister of Justice and Public Safety (responsible for Employment Standards) to express the concern of industry with the ongoing lack of consultation on this issue. Once again, RCC has stated that since retail is the top private sector employer in the province, its members need to be notified and consulted before such decisions are made.

RCC reminded the Deputy Minister that PEI recently committed to join with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in passing legislation this spring to commit the Maritime governments to greater regulatory harmonization and elimination of unnecessary red tape. Under this legislation, Maritime governments will be obligated to produce an annual scorecard over the next five years showing their progress in achieving improved regional harmonization. RCC reiterated its long held advocacy position that minimum wage increases should be based on the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the previous year. RCC pointed out that Nova Scotia already follows this approach; New Brunswick has committed to implementing this approach by 2017 and the new government in Newfoundland and Labrador committed to this approach in their campaign platform. RCC stated that with regards to minimum wage, not only is PEI an outlier within Atlantic Canada, the province’s irresponsible approach of implementing two minimum wage increases in both 2014 and now 2016 gives it a national reputation as being unfriendly to business.

RCC will continue to raise this issue with elected officials in PEI in the lead up to the 2016 provincial budget.

Background:

In early 2014, RCC met with the Employment Standards Board and with the Minister of Labour to oppose the Board’s history of making arbitrary recommendations and the government’s history of making arbitrary decisions regarding minimum wage increases. At the time, RCC proposed to both the Board and the Minister that the government of PEI follow the lead of provinces like Nova Scotia in determining minimum wage increases based on the change in the Consumer Price Index for the previous year. The government ignored this proposal and instead announced two increases in minimum wage in 2014, leading up to the provincial election.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact Jim Cormier at: jcormier@retailcouncil.org or (902) 422-4144