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AB Government manipulates impact of minimum wage hikes in redacted report

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Documents obtained by CFIB include results of flawed survey of business owners and heavily redacted review of impacts

CALGARY, Sept 5th, 2017: With less than one month to go until the minimum wage goes up $1.40 to $13.60 per hour, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) today released documents showing the Alberta Government has conducted little meaningful economic analysis of the minimum wage hikes, and what it has done is either highly flawed or heavily redacted.

The documents obtained through Freedom of Information (FOI) contain two main parts.  First, results from a May 2016 pilot survey of business owners about the first minimum wage increase uses questionable methodology and appears to deliberately downplay impacts by: (1) not asking any direct questions about minimum wage, and (2) steering respondents toward blaming the economic recession for their operating challenges.

The second is a multi-departmental review of economic and social indicators tracking the effects of each stage of minimum wage increases with analysis about what changes may mean.  The report covers October 2015 to February 2016, with a focus on the first few months after the first staged increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour.  Any negative commentary and analysis in the review appears to have been redacted.

“The Alberta government seems to be doing everything it can to not only manipulate analysis to lead the public to a certain desired outcome, but also avoid releasing any kernel of information that may contradict their claims that big jumps in minimum wage are having little to no major impact on small businesses and somehow actually create jobs,” said Amber Ruddy, Alberta Director.

The CFIB has filed yet another complaint with the Information and Privacy Commissioner about the lack of disclosure.

“If this policy is effective, there should be nothing secretive about what went into the decision. It may be convenient to restrict any opposing points from being released, but anything short of full public scrutiny of the impact is unacceptable. It’s time to reverse this radical and reckless policy, even the BC government is open to being flexible with the timeline,” stated Ruddy.

The FOI request was originally filed with Alberta Labour in January 2017. It asked for all reports and analysis of Alberta’s labour market indicators following minimum wage hikes.  In July, after months of waiting, the Government finally released the two flawed and heavily redacted reports referenced in this news release.

To speak with Amber Ruddy, Alberta Director, call 1-866-444-9290 or email [email protected]

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region.