Minimum wage increase a ‘double-edged sword’

On March 10, the minimum wage review committee released its annual report with recommendations for the government of Nova Scotia to increase the minimum wage to $10 per hour in October.

“A raise would be really helpful,” said Megan MacCormack-Mason, 19, a student at Dalhousie University. She works for minimum wage at Subway on Quinpool Rd.

By Emma Romano

Megan MacCormack-Mason holding her pay stub(Emma Romano Photo).

On March 10, the minimum wage review committee released its annual report with recommendations for the government of Nova Scotia to increase the minimum wage to $10 per hour in October.

“A raise would be really helpful,” said Megan MacCormack-Mason, 19, a student at Dalhousie University. She works for minimum wage at Subway on Quinpool Rd.

MacCormack-Mason said she uses her income to pay groceries and bills and depends heavily on her student loan to pay tuition.

The report said most minimum wage earners are young people under 25, employed part-time and the majority are women.

“You want to help out the community, but it’s a double-edged sword,” said Steven MacPherson, one of two representatives for employers on the committee.

“The burden shouldn’t all be placed on the employers of the province,” he said.

“What you want to do is find that happy balance between satisfying guests, employees, and employers so that they can pay and hire people.”

MacCormack-Mason said that though a minimum wage increase would be helpful, it would also mean fewer hours and a stricter work schedule.

“Managers are already telling us not to show up early or stay late for shifts even if people need help. They want us to stick to our hours because there just isn’t room in the labour budget,” said MacCormack-Mason.

Halifax businesses have said that an increase in the minimum wage wouldn’t affect their hiring practices.

“I don’t think it would affect hiring because we hire based on need. We hire based on how many people we need to run the store,” said Kim Aucoin.  Aucoin is in charge of hiring at the Barrington St. candy store, Freak Lunchbox.

MacPherson agreed with Aucoin. He said, “In the service industry, because you can’t just cut hours… or service will suffer, the price of goods goes up.”