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‘Government can’t solve everything:’ Finance minister weighs in on $23.50 living wage

By Skye Bryden-Blom Sep 8, 2022 | 4:21 PM

PiggyBank / Unsplash

No plan is in the works to fast-track a boost to the minimum wage in Nova Scotia.

A new report by The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has pegged the living wage in the Halifax area at $23.50 per hour.

That compares to $20/hour in Cape Breton and $22.50/hour in southern Nova Scotia.

The finance minister is not offering up solutions to residents as the current minimum wage sits well below those figures at $13.35 per hour.

Allan MacMaster does not believe the provincial government can fix the cost of living issues being felt worldwide amid soaring inflation.

“Government can’t solve everything,” he says. “We don’t have enough money in our treasury to fix all of the problems people face. What we must do is be prudent. We support what the Central Bank is doing to fight inflation. Bring inflation down.”

MacMaster adds it can be tricky to balance the needs of individuals and those of businesses when it comes to raising wages.

“People, especially lower income levels, are facing more of a struggle with inflation,” he says. “Their employers are also facing inflation. I think we as a government need to be careful as well about creating uncertainty for employers.”

He instead points to the fight against the feds Carbon Tax, which is not yet in place.

The province recently submitted its plan to the federal government in an attempt to avoid the tax citing concerns it would cause unnecessary hardship to Nova Scotians who are already struggling to fill up their gas tanks and heat their homes.

“Looking down the road on carbon taxes we’ve drawn the line in the sand on that one,” he says. “We don’t want the federal government to make it worse. We are always looking at ways that we can help.”

Nova Scotia’s minimum wage is set to reach $15 in 2024.

That’s still more than $8 below the report’s findings of what is needed for the average person to meet their basic needs.

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