There are good reasons to believe that’s exactly what they’re considering, says labour leader
EDMONTON – The president of Alberta’s largest worker advocacy group, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), is accusing the UCP of having a “secret plan to cut the minimum wage in rural Alberta.”
AFL president Gil McGowan made the accusation after reviewing the evidence surrounding the report of a UCP-appointed minimum wage panel, which the government has, so far, refused to release.
The panel was chaired by University of Alberta economist Joseph Marchand, a well-known critic of the Notley government’s decision to boost the Alberta minimum wage to $15.
In December 2022, Marchand released a separate report suggesting that the $15 minimum wage led to job loses in rural Alberta, but not in urban centres. McGowan says this “clearly signals Marchand’s support for a lower minimum wage in rural areas.”
“The crucial question that needs to be answered is: does the UCP support the idea of cutting the minimum wage for Albertans living and working outside the major cities?” says McGowan. “Is this what their hand-picked panel of minimum wage critics and self-interested low-wage employers concluded? Is this why they’re refusing the release the report?”
Last week, Marchand published an open letter, under the letterhead of the conservative CD Howe Institute, calling on the Alberta government to release the panel report and recommendations, which he says were delivered to government more than a year ago.
McGowan agrees with Marchand that the report and it’s recommendations should be released immediately.
“I don’t agree with Marchand’s analysis or his conclusions,” says McGowan. “But I agree that Albertans deserve to know if the UCP has a plan to cut the minimum wage in rural Alberta. And they deserve to have that information before they cast their ballots in the upcoming provincial election, not afterwards. That’s why they should release the damn report. What are they hiding?”
McGowan says that rural Alberta “has suffered enough under inflation and economic instability over the past three years. Cutting the wages of the lowest-paid workers in these areas would do nothing but cause more pain.“
McGowan points out that wages are generally lower in rural Alberta, and the unemployment rate is at times higher.
“A UCP pay cut at this time of rising inflation would be devastating. It would make it even harder for people already struggling with the rising cost of living. It would negate all of the UCP’s so-called affordability measures. And it would hurt local economies by reducing consumer spending and individual purchasing power.”
Director of Communications, AFL