The transition to a higher mimum wage will soon be complete.
As of October 1, the minimum wage in Alberta will rise to $15 per hour. The wage increase was a platform promise of the NDP during the 2015 election, with the first increases being made in October of that year.
"By increasing that minimum wage to $15, we are making sure that life will be a little more affordable for hundreds of thousands of workers across our province and I'm so incredibly proud of that," said Christina Gray, minister of labour with the province. "Every single working Albertan deserves a fair wage... I do want to mention that 75 per cent of our minimum wage earners are 20 or older. So, the stereotype of teenagers living in their parents' basement is not accurate. These are families, women, there are single parents in this mix, and it's really important that they have that fair wage so they can buy food, groceries, transportation."
The final changes to the minimum wage come after consultation with both minimum wage earners and employers throughout the province. While those earning the higher minimum wage have reacted positively, responses from the people paying those wages have been mixed, according to Minister Gray.
"I've talked to a lot of minimum wage earners who have told me some of the stories about what this means to them -- stories that kind of break your heart, about not having to choose between groceries or winter clothes for their kids or being able to buy a turkey for the upcoming Thanksgiving," she explained. "These types of stories, I hear quite frequently from the workers."
"We've also heard from some employers who support the minimum wage increase... I've also heard from employers who are not supportive of the minimum wage increase and to them, I often talk about the way that our government works to support business as well, by doing things like cutting the small business tax by a third."
While the wage increase may have some impact on those earning close to the minimum wage, people earning larger amounts are likely to be unaffected according to Gray.
With the changes in effect, Alberta will have the highest minimum wage in Canada. British Columbia is also moving towards a $15 minimum wage.