In a move aimed at addressing the growing concerns of minimum wage earners, Saskatchewan recently increase its minimum wage from $13 to $14 per hour. However, this increment, though a step in the right direction. It is still the lowest among Canadian provinces. Leaving many struggling to make ends meet in the face of rising living costs driven by inflation.
Sarah Marr, an employee at a Saskatoon Taco Bell, expressed her concerns, saying, “I don’t think it’s enough. I’ve got a family, I’ve got kids and grandkids. They all depend on me, and working minimum wage for 22 hours a week is not enough.” Marr, like many others, finds herself borrowing money from family, roommates, or friends to cover monthly bills.
The wage increase, though welcomed, falls short of meeting the increasing cost of living in the province. Marr’s sentiment is echoed by numerous minimum wage earners in Saskatoon. They face the dilemma of choosing between purchasing groceries or paying essential bills.
Struggles to manage $1,300
Maksudur Raahman, who moved to Saskatoon from Bangladesh for a better quality of life. It emphasized the challenges of maintaining a decent standard of living on minimum wage. He remarked, “This is not the life that I wanted before coming here.” Raahman, like many others, struggles to manage a $1,300 monthly rent, which consumes a significant portion of his $2,000 to $2,500 monthly income.
Sanjeev Kumar, a line cook in Saskatoon, emphasized that the current wage increase might offer only modest relief. “With the kind of inflation we have right now in the country and the interest rates and high gas prices, I don’t think that $1 increase would make any difference for us,” he explained.
Experts and advocates argue that a more substantial wage adjustment is needed to address the challenges faced by minimum wage earners. According to a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a decent standard of living in Regina requires a wage of $16.23 per hour, while in Saskatoon, it’s estimated to be $16.89 per hour.
While the Saskatchewan government has committed to further increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2024. Critics argue that more immediate action is required to alleviate the financial burdens faced by low-income workers. They suggest that setting the minimum wage in line with local living wages and addressing other factors like housing costs and social assistance programs may be more effective in reducing poverty in the province.
While the minimum wage increase is a step towards addressing the financial challenges faced by low-income workers in Saskatchewan. Many believe it falls short of adequately addressing the rising cost of living in the province. Advocates and experts continue to push for more comprehensive solutions to alleviate poverty. They ensure a better quality of life for all residents.