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Working Wise: Minimum Wage

Dear Working Wise,

When is the minimum wage going up? Is it going up for both liquor servers and other workers?
Signed, Stretched Server

September 21, 2016

Dear Stretched,

Minimum wage in Alberta is changing as of October 1, 2016.

The general minimum wage will increase by one dollar, from $11.20 to $12.20 per hour. At the same time, the liquor server minimum wage, which has been in place since 2011, will be eliminated. This means that the general minimum wage will apply to all minimum wage earners, including those who regularly serve alcohol.

Future increases to the general minimum wage will occur. On October 1, 2017, the rate will increase by $1.40 to $13.60 per hour. And on October 1, 2018, the rate will increase another $1.40 to $15 per hour. These increases represent the fulfillment of the promise made in 2015 to raise Alberta’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, and it marks significant progress towards implementing a living wage for many Albertans.

Alberta’s Employment Standards also includes a minimum weekly wage for some salespersons and professionals and a minimum monthly wage for domestic employees. These rates will increase to $486 per week and $2,316 per month effective October 1, 2016.

Low-income earners should be able to support their families without having to visit the food bank. A higher minimum wage can help increase the incomes of low-wage earners, lessen the burden on social support programs and improve the quality of life for vulnerable Albertans.

The move to a $15 per hour minimum wage will also encourage greater employee satisfaction, which can help reduce staff turnover (a common problem in the food and beverage business), recruitment and training resources. It will also help young people pay for university and college education so they can improve their skills and move into high-wage jobs.

It’s important to remember that these are minimum wage rates—many employers choose to pay their employees more to attract and retain good people.

Minimum wage is the lowest amount employers can pay workers in Alberta with a few exceptions. Certain employees may be exempt from the minimum wage, including securities salespersons, real estate brokers, insurance salespeople, students in approved work-experience programs or training courses, counsellors/instructors at non-profit camps and extras in film or video production.

For more information on Alberta’s minimum wage rates and exemptions, visit the Employment Standards website.

Photo Credit: © Government of Alberta

Working Wise is a syndicated newspaper column prepared by the Government of Alberta to answer work-related questions from Albertans. Do you have a work-related question? You can send it to Charles Strachey (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca), a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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