Some small business owners in Calgary are warming up to the minimum-wage hike in Alberta.
After a $15 per hour minimum wage was set in Alberta on Oct. 1, many business owners expressed opposition to the new pay level, which was an increase of $1.40 per hour.
But some have begun to like the idea of an increased wage.
According to the Alberta government website, poverty among low-wage workers was what drove lawmakers to introduce the increase.
More than 254,000 people, or 11 per cent of employees in Alberta, were making less than $15 an hour prior to the hike.
In 2017, 63 per cent were low-wage earning females, and 37 per cent are working parents. About 76 per cent had permanent jobs that made less than what is considered minimum wage in November, 2018.
Some managers and private business owners were shocked to learn how bad some people had in Alberta.
“I remember thinking that an increase would mean less money for me,” said Dupinder Dhatta, a restaurant owner.
“Reading more about these things in the last year has given me hope for the average guy working minimum wage.”
Dhutta was born in South Africa but moved to London when he was three to live with his aunt and uncle.
His family could afford to send him to good schools, and when he moved to Canada in the late 90’s, they gave him money to start up his own business.
“It can be hard to accept that your condition is different than a lot of other people,” said Dhutta.
“I grew up pretty well and had loads of opportunities to get to where I am today.”
Dhutta said that the minimum wage hike is overdue for the working class, and he is happy to help working families.
He believes that the Alberta government is empathetic to the plight of working people.
“I’m proud to support the minimum wage increase,” said Dhutta. “I hope we never end up like America.”
Balwinder Singh, a convenience store manager, said that it’s great to see people get better-paying opportunities in Alberta.
“Most of my guys working for me are students,” said Singh.
“They eat and live on minimum wage.”
Singh said that it’s a relief that some of the people that work for him can afford a bit more wiggle room when it comes to finances.
“I have friends who complain about not making enough money after paying their employees,” said Singh.
“That means you can’t afford to stay in business.”
Singh said that it’s important to keep pushing the government to have inflation be taken into account when adjusting the minimum wage.
“I studied engineering back home in India,” said Singh.
“There is a huge gap in pay right now and I’m doing my part to help out Canadians.”
Singh’s employee, Rajesh Kumar, said that he enjoys being paid a little bit better, and he is currently saving money to start his own business in Calgary.
“It really helps me a bit to make extra money,” said Kumar. “Every bit counts.”
Nassar Uezi, a Pizza 73 worker, said that the government should try to focus on providing better benefits for people who work minimum wage jobs.
“I’d like to see stuff that covers vision and dental in the future,” said Uezi.
“If the government cares about working people they need to show it more.”
Uezi said that he’s hoping that the increase in minimum wage will help get Albertans out of poverty.
“I see the downturn in the economy and this might be the boost needed to help Alberta,” said Uezi.