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NDP pledge yearly minimum wage increase of 50 cents

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/3/2016 (1437 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The NDP is promising to put more money in the pockets of Manitobans.

NDP leader Greg Selinger says he will increase the province’s minimum wage by at least 50 cents each year and reject calls by lobbyists to introduce different minimum wages for young people, service industry workers and new hires.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>NDP Leader Greg Selinger</p></p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

NDP Leader Greg Selinger

The NDP say they will also create 300 new social housing units a year, work to create a pension-like income program for persons with disabilities and work to create a targeted benefit for single, low-income Manitobans to help provide for their basic needs and help as they move into a new job.

"It’s a plan that tackles poverty from all directions," Selinger said at a news conference at the West End Commons Saturday. "When you put together more money in people’s pockets with stronger minimum wage, when you ensure that they have affordable social housing, when you continue to make sure their basic needs are met and have daycare and a commitment to better education… you’re building a solid, multi-pronged approach here in Manitoba."

The minimum wage increased to $11 an hour from $10.70 last November.

Progressive Conservative leader Brian Pallister has called for Selinger to raise the basic personal tax exemption, currently at $9,134. Selinger said the NDP has committed to reducing taxes for low income families.

"Our commitment in this election is reduce taxes for middle-income and working families, by asking the folks at the highest level to pay a little more," he said. "(Brian) has opposed that. The Liberals have opposed that. We are putting money in the pockets of Manitobans and they’re opposing it."

The local leg of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has long opposed any increase to the minimum wage in Manitoba for the effect it can have on small business. Elliot Sims, CFIB's director of provincial affairs for the province, cited a recent survey of members on the effect of a wage hike in 2016. He said over 40 per cent said it would put future hiring plans on hold and over 57 per cent of its members surveyed said it would cause them to increase prices.

Meanwhile, Selinger said he doesn’t believe raising minimum wage will affect the job prospects of students and those with minimal experience.

"We provide supports to train people to go into jobs, that’s a key," Selinger said. "So the answer is that, for employers, they will, under a recent announcement we made, will have the lowest taxes in Canada – zero on up to $500,000. That allows them more money to pay a better wage and we are willing to help work with all employers to train people to do the jobs that need to be done.

"What do young people want? They want an opportunity to put their skills to work. They want an opportunity to get those skills and then get a job to do that."

Selinger said he is not open to a multi-tier minimum wage system

"Everybody that works in that job, it’s important they get that minimum wage," he said. "It allows them, if they are a student, to go to school, pay rent, buy groceries and they do a good job. Young people bring different skills to the table. They may not have as much experience, but they usually make it up with enthusiasm and willingness to learn very rapidly."

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSNDP Leader Greg Selinger with Ronin Husack, 6, left and Talina Husack, 8, at West End Commons after pledging a 50 cent minimum wage increase, Saturday, March 19, 2016.</p>

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSNDP Leader Greg Selinger with Ronin Husack, 6, left and Talina Husack, 8, at West End Commons after pledging a 50 cent minimum wage increase, Saturday, March 19, 2016.

Talia Syrie, who owns The Tallest Poppy and was present at the announcement, said being able to pay her employees is the best way to retain employees and shield small businesses like hers from high turnover rates.

"It doesn’t hurt the restaurant industry to raise minimum wage, what it actually does is raise productivity," Syrie said. "People are less stressed out and it makes them better at their jobs."

When asked if a service industry minimum wage system, such as the one in Ontario, would be better served in the province, Syrie strongly opposed the notion.

"The majority of servers in the service industry are women," she said. "It really offends me when people imply that servers should get paid less money and it’s just one more way of paying women less money."

The current service minimum wage in Ontario is set at $9.80 compared to $11.25 for general minimum wage.

In a statement provided by a Progressive Conservative spokesman, the party noted Manitoba leads the nation in food bank usage and has the highest poverty rate in Canada.

"The NDP way has not worked," read part of the statement.

"The Progressive Conservative Party will provide real relief for low-income Manitobans by raising the basic personal exemption and indexing tax brackets to the inflation rate, allowing them to keep far more of their hard-earned money."

scott.billeck@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at 3:04 PM CDT: Writethru, adds photo

4:16 PM: Writethru, adds photo, adds comments from Tories

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