Chamber president puts in his 21 cents on minimum wage

Raising the minimum wage another 21 cents in line with the Consumer Price Index isn’t fair to business, says the president of the Whitehorse…

Raising the minimum wage another 21 cents in line with the Consumer Price Index isn’t fair to business, says the president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.

The new rate of $8.58 an hour will hurt the people it’s meant to help — first-time employees, says Rick Karp.

“When you get your first job you’re more of a burden than a benefit to your employer because the company has to spend a lot of time and money training you,” said Karp.

“We spend a lot of money training these people and giving them a skill set, giving them training that will last them their whole lives.

“Employers are going to start going for more experienced workers because the cost of labour is going up.”

Minimum wage should be decided by the labour market, said Karp, adding that in the current tight market almost no business is paying the minimum.

It’s not fair to tie minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index because if the index dropped and businesses had to cut their prices it is unlikely minimum wage would go down, he added.

The decision to tie minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index was recommended by the Employment Standards Board and was implemented in March 2006.

The latest increase to minimum wage will begin on April 1, but the information was released to allow employers to get ready for the change, said Doug Caldwell, a spokesman for the Community Services department.

“We got (last year’s) CPI numbers on January 25,” he said.

“The reason we put it out now is so that contractors who are planning bids can add it into (their plans).”

While he’s not sure how many people in the territory are currently on minimum wage, the territory should have a better idea by the end of the year because the Yukon bureau of statistics will be collecting that information, he said.

A question will be added to its annual employment survey, said the bureau’s Gary Brown.

“It’s a single question on our employment survey.

“The question we’re adding this time around is ‘how many employees are on minimum wage?’” he said.

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