Local employer speaks on minimum wage roll-back for youth employees

By Taylor Chartrand
May 28, 2019 - 3:33pm Updated: May 28, 2019 - 7:22pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB - Yesterday, Premier Jason Kenney announced the governments plan for Bill 2 or the Open for Business Act

If passed, youth employees under the age of 18 would see their hourly wage decrease from $15 an hour to $13 an hour.

Before the Alberta NDP announced their plans to increase minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2018, Dan Hamilton at the Dunmore Dugout says he was probably one of the biggest youth-employers in the area.

Fast forward to May of 2019 and Hamilton says he is probably way down that list, after having to let a majority of his youth-staff go.

"I was looking for the more mature, college students," explained Hamilton. "People that could take their place and actually do the job without us standing over or following behind." 

Hamilton went from having roughly 46 employees on the books down to 18, as paying that many people wasn't economically-viable.

"I think out of the eighteen I have on, I probably have five that are sixteen or under, with most of them being seventeen or eighteen. But, we've had lots of applications, lots of kids looking to start their working career and we've just refused to take them because we didn't want to spend the fifteen dollars an hour training them. But, now we'll open up those doors for those kids and bring them in."

Within the Open for Business Act, employers must pay their youth-employees $15 an hour if they work over 28 hours in a week.

Something Hamilton is on the fence with.

"It depends on their work and skill level. If I still have to pay $15 an hour to take care of somebody that's at $13 an hour, no, I don't think their wage should go up. If they can earn it and get to that next level, then yeah, I have no issues with that. I'd pay more than $15 an hour if those people are fully capable of doing the job."

For Hamilton, the biggest change in Bill 2 comes regarding the STAT holiday pay.

"We couldn't afford to pay those STAT's for every employee we had. Now, with the rules coming in, they're taking that out of the equation and we can afford to bring more people back. They might only work one or two shifts a month, but we can afford to have them there because every month of the year, there's one STAT holiday. So, to pay somebody that four-hours to only work a four-hour shift out of the month, it just didn't make sense."

The plan was announced as part of the UCP's platform during the 2019 provincial campaign and Hamilton says he's glad to see politicians following through on their word.

"It's great to see somebody come in and really look at what Alberta needs and shows they're paying attention to what the business owners are saying. Little businesses are a big part of Alberta, it's not just the big guys. There's a lot of us little ones that are supporting the economy too. So, I'm glad that this is coming."

If passed, the new youth job creation wage of $13 per hour would take effect June 26, 2019.

In addition, changes to holiday pay rules, overtime and Flexible Averaging Agreements would take effect on September 1, 2019 to give employers time to adjust.

For a full summary of Bill 2, click here.

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