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Sask. minimum wage inches up

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The minimum wage in Saskatchewan went up to $14 an hour on Sunday. Despite the increase, the wage remains the lowest in Canada, trailing New Brunswick by 75 cents.

The $1 dollar bump to the province’s lowest legal wage was set in May 2022, when the government stopped using an indexation formula and pledged to increase it to $15 an hour by Oct. 2024.

“Other supports to assist minimum wage earners include the basic personal tax exemption, child tax credit and the Saskatchewan low-income tax credit,” said Labour Relations Minister Don McMorris in a press release.

Meanwhile, Food Banks of Canada’s poverty index gives Saskatchewan a barely-passing grade.

In a survey released this month, the food security non-profit illustrates how skyrocketing inflation has put the pinch on Saskatchewan's lower wage earners.

Food Banks Canada says nearly half of respondents in Saskatchewan reported feeling worse off compared to last year, and 36 per cent of people reported spending more than a third of their income on housing.

“Residents in the province with low incomes are spending as much as 58 per cent of their income on fixed costs like internet, groceries and transportation, [and] there is a real concern that people do not have enough money left over at the end of the month to feel financially secure.”

Just over a quarter of people surveyed in Saskatchewan were unable to afford items considered necessary for an adequate standard of living, Food Banks Canada said.

“Addressing poverty in Saskatchewan requires a holistic approach that brings together a diverse range of voices and experiences. Many critics believe that the current provincial government has cut back on essential programs, leaving many communities that are vulnerable to poverty without adequate support,” the survey authors said.

At a time when the province is posting surpluses, there are opportunities to make strategic choices instead of going for short-term wins, the report says.

“Some of this wealth has been shared in the form of one-time affordability payments, but those payments represent short-term and inadequate responses to the systemic barriers to economic participation that residents face.”

Correction

A previous version of the story said Saskatchewan would have the second-lowest minimum wage in the country by Oct. 1.

It actually remains the lowest in Canada.

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