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Kenney Will Make Life Harder for Youngs-Notley

Kenney Will Make Life Harder for Youngs-Notley

Edmonton (ATB): Notley spoke to members of the Rotary Club of Calgary during a luncheon at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel, where she responded to comments made by Kenney about wages while speaking to restaurant owners.
Kenney said that if his party wins power it would seriously consider bringing in changes to reduce the minimum wage for youth and for alcohol servers.
“The truth is the NDP raising wages during the middle of a recession, including on teenagers in entry level positions, was a massive job killer,” Kenney told reporters.
“I think there’s a very compelling case to do what many other provinces do, which is to have a youth employment rate that encourages employers to hire those teenagers for their first job. These are young people who — often it’s their first job — they require a lot of training and supervision. They do not require a living wage because they are, in almost every case, dependents, and what they really want is a job.”
Kenney said a potential UCP government would also consider a return to a two-tiered system under which alcohol servers are paid a lower minimum wage than the rest of the public. That system, which was eliminated by the NDP government in 2016, saw minimum-wage servers paid about 50 cents less than other workers, as their earnings are supplemented by tips.
But Notley said some employers could exploit that policy if it were brought back.
“That is, quite frankly, a massive, massive loophole through which we can expect many employers to drop through at the expense of workers,” she said. “Quite honestly, it should come as no surprise that roughly two-thirds of those workers who will lose out through this policy announcement made today are women.”
Alberta has gradually moved toward a $15 minimum wage, where it now sits, since the NDP took power in 2015. The increase from $10.20 was aimed to help reduce poverty and lessen the burden on social support programs, according to the government.
The province said it sought to move closer to a living wage, or what workers need to earn to cover the costs of living in a specific community. Depending on the region, that figure is about $18 per hour.
Kenney said minimum-wage cuts could help keep struggling restaurants from closing while allowing them to hire more people. He said alcohol servers have told him they would rather work more hours than get paid at a higher minimum wage because they can make far more in tips.
“We have a crisis of youth employment in Alberta. The employment level amongst young men in particular is its lowest level in statistical history in Alberta,” said Kenney. “Most of the folks who get significant tip income in restaurants, they just want more hours. But what the NDP has done is to cut back their hours or get them laid off altogether.”
Notley said a youth employment rate lower than that of the general minimum wage rate would lead to fewer jobs, and that the minimum-wage earners she talks to sing a different tune.
“Minimum wage actually means a lot to these young workers,” said Notley.
“I have personally lost count of the number of times I’ve had young people approach me in stores or restaurants and tell me, just organically, how the change in the minimum wage means that they can continue their studies at school while working part-time to supplement their income and make that dream of a post-secondary education affordable to them.”
She said Kenney’s comments are telling when it comes to where he stands on issues that affect young Albertans.
“I think it says everything you need to know about his priorities and who he will govern for,” she said.

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