Alberta Minimum Wage Hike Bad for Business and Young Albertans

On Monday, October 1st, Alberta's minimum wage increased to $15 per hour - the highest in the entire country.
Supporters of the increase - especially the NDP government - have been quick to point out that studies on minimum wage increases have shown that while those increases have resulted in job losses for positions paying less than the new minimum wage, they were offset by new jobs paying at or above the minimum wage.
There's just one problem with those studies - they reflect minimum wage increases which occurred gradually over time and which were as a result of wage increases across the board brought about by economic growth.
Alberta's minimum wage increase to $15 per hour took less than three years and occurred while Alberta was in the midst of a depressed economy and high unemployment.
So, what do studies say about minimum wage increases that far exceed what is justified by the free market and which are implemented in a compressed period of time?
Unsurprisingly, the research has clearly shown that it hurts businesses and results in job losses - particularly for younger workers.
According to a report by the respected C.D. Howe Institute, this minimum wage hike could see 25,000 more Albertans thrown out of work.
Most young workers have few skills or work experience and rely on entry-level jobs to earn money and gain job experience.
These jobs are now being systematically eliminated from the economy, leading to staggering rates of youth unemployment.
In fact, in Alberta alone, nearly 12% of individuals aged 15-24 were unemployed - in other words, tens of thousands of young Albertans can't find work, and their job search just became much harder as of Monday.
It's just the latest attack on Alberta business since the NDP took office in 2015.
Alberta businesses have had to deal with not only these punishing minimum wage increases, but also with the onerous new requirement to pay statutory holiday pay to employees even when their businesses are closed, Workers' Compensation Board premium hikes, and a multi-billion dollar carbon tax - all while dealing with a sluggish Alberta economy.
Simply put, the NDP is making it unaffordable to do business in Alberta, and are driving away jobs and investment as they pursue their ideological agenda.
Many groups have put forward policy ideas which would help struggling Alberta businesses and unemployed young Albertans, including a youth wage differential which would allow businesses to pay young workers a lower wage.
Rather than consider these ideas, the NDP has instead railed against these groups and businesses, painting them as uncaring and putting profits ahead of people.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Small business owners care deeply about their employees, and it pains them deeply when they have to cut their salaries, reduce their hours, or lay them off.
To portray small businesses as uncaring isn't just inaccurate, it's hurtful to the families who save and scrape to keep their businesses open and their employees on the payroll.
As conservatives, we know that the role of government is to put in place the best conditions possible for businesses to create high-paying jobs, hire workers, and invest in our province - we know that it is the private sector, and not the government, that creates opportunity and prosperity.
This is something the NDP doesn't accept. They genuinely do not believe that the free market is a force for good, and that government must regulate, subsidize, and interfere with business at every opportunity.
Meanwhile, thanks to the NDP, more Albertans will be lining up for employment insurance payouts as they lose their jobs, and more young Albertans will face a tougher struggle to find their first jobs.

Alberta Can't Wait