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Atlantic Canada small businesses struggle with another minimum wage hike: CFIB

By Caitlin Snow Apr 1, 2024 | 12:37 PM

Small businesses in all four provinces in Atlantic Canada are going to see a hike of $54.5 million to payroll costs due to the increase in minimum wage, according to the Canadian Federation of Small Businesses (CFIB).

The hourly rate went up to $15.20 in Nova Scotia and $15.30 in New Brunswick, April 1.

The federation says nearly 60 per cent of small businesses have not been able to absorb the cost of past increases and have had to increase the prices of goods and services in order to raise wages.

Policy analyst at CFIB, Beatrix Abdul Azeez says 4 out of 5 businesses owners are concerned.

“With 40% of small businesses in Atlantic Canada still reporting insufficient demand (lowered sales), these increases will add to the cost pressures already present on insurance, fuel, electricity, occupancy and borrowing.”

Louis-Philippe Gauthier, CFIB’s Atlantic Vice President urges Atlantic Canada to increase minimum wage only once a year, the same percentage amount regular wage would increase.

“Over the last few years, small businesses have seen all four governments deviate from the once-a-year schedule while applying various subjective criteria. Provinces in Atlantic Canada need to get back to a once-a-year frequency and tie minimum wage increases to something that’s real.”

There have been a few increases to minimum wage over the last several months following a formula worked out by the Minimum Wage Review Committee.

The last increase was in October when it reached $15.00.

However, in a media release from earlier this year, the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour says a hike of 20 cents is not nearly enough as a lot of people can’t afford rent, groceries or to even heat their homes.

They called on the Review Committee to introduce a ‘Living Wage Index’, involving an annual review of minimum wage in Nova Scotia.

The province says about 28,000 Nova Scotians worked in a minimum wage job between April 2021 and March 2022, primarily in the retail, food and accommodation industries.

-With files from Kevin Northup