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Small biz commends Manitoba government’s decision to freeze minimum wage

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CFIB urges government to focus on better alternatives to help low-income earners

Winnipeg, September 29, 2016 – As a number of provinces prepare to hike minimum wage on October 1, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is commending the Manitoba government for freezing minimum wage, and for listening to small business owners’ alternatives to minimum wage policy.

Today, the Manitoba government announced it would be consulting on their approach to minimum wage policy and is seeking the input of Manitoba taxpayers and business owners. The Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade has asked the Labour Management Review Committee (LMRC) to specifically focus on recommendations related to the implementation of an indexing formula that would automatically adjust the minimum wage on an annual basis.

“We are encouraged the government recognizes that employers and workers are directly impacted by changes to Manitoba’s minimum wage, however, we worry that the government may decide to annually increase minimum wage without exhausting its ability to actually help low-income earners through tax relief and training opportunities,” noted Jonathan Alward, CFIB Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. “That is why CFIB is recommending a common-sense approach and asking the government to focus on more practical ways to help low-income earners.”

This week, CFIB released new survey data that debunks a number of myths about minimum wage, highlighted the negative impacts of previous minimum wage increases, and outlined better ways for government to help low-income Manitobans. Survey results showed that the 11 minimum wage increases in the past 10 years have negatively impacted small business growth and employment. Forty three per cent of Manitoba small businesses were forced to raise prices of their products/services, 25 per cent delayed expansion plans, and 22 per cent reduced their number of employees.

When asked on the best ways for government to improve the standard of living for low-income earners, 81 per cent of Manitoba entrepreneurs support reducing personal income tax rates for low-income earners, 71 per cent support increasing the basic personal/spousal exemption, 57 per cent support increasing tax credits for low-income earners, and 49 per cent support investing in training for low-income earners to upgrade their skills. Only 27 per cent support moderate, regular increases to the minimum wage and just 3 per cent support significantly higher minimum wage rates.

“Given the shortcomings of minimum wage policy, no government should consider increasing the minimum wage until it has exhausted its ability to assist low-income earners through tax relief and training initiatives – especially for key sectors affected by minimum wage policy, such as accommodation/food services and retail,” added Alward.

“However, if government chooses to make adjustments to the minimum wage, they must demonstrate that they have considered all other alternatives prior to increasing its minimum wage,” said Alward. “In fact, 91 per cent of Manitoba small businesses believe that the government should conduct and publically release the results of a thorough employment and economic impact analysis for any proposed minimum wage increases in Manitoba.”

“We look forward to sharing our members’ views during these consultations, and we will continue to call on the Manitoba government to adopt common-sense alternatives to minimum wage policy that can truly help low-income earners,” concluded Alward.

To find out more about the CFIB Employment and Wages Survey, please visit: Small biz urges Manitoba government to freeze minimum wage

To arrange an interview with Jonathan Alward, Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba, please call 1 888-234-2232, 204-982-0817 or email [email protected]. You can also follow CFIB Manitoba on Twitter @cfibMB.

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members (4,800 in Manitoba) across every sector and region.