Coming Oct. 1, some 28,000 Manitobans will get a raise in pay.
The province will announce today that it is raising the minimum wage this fall by 50 cents an hour -- to $9.50.
Business leaders hoped for a smaller increase -- or no increase at all -- at a time when many employers are suffering economically, while the Manitoba Federation of Labour sought a 75-cent-an-hour rise effective this past April 1.
Labour and Immigration Minister Jennifer Howard said in an interview Wednesday the government tried to balance the needs of workers and business.
The hospitality industry and seasonal agricultural businesses won't incur higher costs until fall, she said. "Yet a 50-cent increase will allow us to maintain our position relative to other provinces... (and) also give those folks who earn minimum wage a significant enough increase that they would be able to buy things they need for their families."
Manitoba also increased the minimum wage by 50 cents last year, doing it in two stages -- 25 cents on May 1 and 25 cents on Oct. 1. An employee earning Manitoba's new minimum wage who works 40 hours a week would gross $19,760 a year.
Howard said the NDP believes in instituting annual increases in the minimum wage rather than boosting it sporadically, as has been done in the past.
"The consensus position of employers was a 30-cent increase. It was not a freeze," Howard noted, although she allowed that there were employers who wanted the rate to stay where it was.
The government rejected that -- as well as the position of organized labour.
"I think 75 cents was too high and would have been too much for businesses to absorb in this economy," Howard said.
While the minimum wage will go up by 50 cents, the workers who receive it will get to keep less than half that increase, after deductions, according to an analysis by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
Shannon Martin, the CFIB's Manitoba director, argues that governments will get a bigger boost from the wage hike than the employees.
Martin said in a recent email that a 50-cent-an-hour hike translates into an extra $1,040 a year for full-time employees.
However, after paying an additional $552 in deductions (CPP, EI, provincial and federal taxes), they will actually receive a yearly net increase of only $488, he said.
"When you look at the impact on the employer, it is much more significant with additional annual costs of $1,118 per full-time employee," he said, adding this doesn't take into account additional vacation pay, statutory holiday pay and workers' compensation costs.
The Manitoba Federation of Labour has sponsored a resolution at this weekend's provincial NDP convention calling for a series of yearly hikes in the minimum wage, bringing it to $11.25 by April 1, 2012.