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Small biz urges Manitoba government to freeze minimum wage

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New survey results show better ways to help low-income earners

Winnipeg, September 28, 2016 – As a number of provinces prepare to hike minimum wage in the coming days, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released a new survey that debunks a number of myths about minimum wage and outlines more effective ways for government to help low-income Manitobans.

The Manitoba government is currently reviewing its minimum wage policy and this new data provides ample reason to think twice about raising the minimum wage.

“We urge the Manitoba government to freeze the minimum wage and consider other ways to actually achieve the goal of helping low-income earners, such as providing additional income tax relief and improving training opportunities for them,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. “Our survey results show that 11 minimum wage increases in the previous 10 years have negatively impacted small business growth and employment. How would another increase be any different?”

Highlights of CFIB’s Employment and Wages Survey:

Myths about minimum wage

  • Increasing the minimum wage will improve employee retention in my business: 80 per cent of Manitoba small business owners disagree with this statement, only 5 per cent agree, 15 per cent don’t know.
  • Government mandated minimum wage increases are the best way to increase employment and wages for low-income earners: 81 per cent of Manitoba business owners disagree, only 10 per cent agree, and 9 per cent don’t know.

Impact of previous minimum wage increases 

  • 48 per cent of Manitoba small business owners reported reduced business profits;
  • 43 per cent were forced to raise prices of their products/services;
  • 35 per cent reduced hiring of youth and/or inexperienced workers;
  • 25 per cent delayed expansion plans;
  • 22 per cent reduced their number of employees; and
  • 22 per cent reduced hours for staff.

 Bestways for government to help low-income earners

  • 81 per cent of Manitoba business owners 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;
  • 49 per cent support investment in training for low-income earners to upgrade their skills;
  • 29 per cent support focusing on social services, such as affordable housing;
  • 27 per cent support moderate, regular increases to the minimum wage; and
  • Only 3 per cent support significantly higher minimum wage rates.

“Given the obvious shortcomings of minimum wage policy, government shouldn’t 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,” concluded Alward. “The Manitoba government needs to listen to the Province’s job creators and adopt common sense alternatives to minimum wage policy that can truly help low-income earners.”

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.