Premier Jason Kenney announced last month in May that a minimum wage change would be coming to Alberta, but instead of an increase, teenagers in the province would see their minimum wage reduced. Alberta's minimum wage cut for youth under 18-years-old will become effective starting tomorrow. With the new optional law, employers are able to pay teenagers who are under 18 two dollars less than the rest of the workers in the province.
The new regulation gives employers the choice of whether they want to maintain the same $15 minimum wage for all workers or reduce it to $13 per hour for working students who are under 18-years-old.
In response, over 100 Alberta businesses have stood up and promised to continue paying their youth workers the same salary as before the new regulation was introduced.
Calgary Stampede, which employs several youth in Alberta, will also be maintaining a $15 minimum wage this summer for all its workers, due to the timing of the new regulation's release, but has not said whether the event will continue doing so in future years, Global News reports.
“The Stampede’s immediate focus right now is the execution of delivering the event for this year,” Stampede spokeswoman Jennifer Booth told Global News.
Jason Kenney said that the new change would be beneficial to youth and result in more employment opportunities for them, because they were being "priced out of the labour market".
“We need to encourage employers to create opportunities for all workers. These changes would help Alberta’s businesses to do just that," said Jason Copping, Minister of Labour, in a news release. "We’re bringing back balance, cutting red tape and making it more affordable to hire teens for their first jobs.”
There are restrictions to the new regulation. "This new rate applies for students working 28 hours/week or less when school is in session. Students must be paid the general minimum wage of $15/hour for time exceeding 28 hours in one week," reads the Alberta government website.
Currently, Alberta has the highest minimum wage in the country. It is not the only province in Canada that has a different minimum wage for youth – currently, Ontario students are legally allowed to be paid around one dollar less, at $13.15 an hour. The province's minimum wage is $14 per hour.