In a news release Thursday, the CFIB said the increase would see up to 29,000 youth job losses across the Atlantic region.
“Almost 90 per cent of employees who work for Atlantic Canadian CFIB business members earn above the current minimum wage. However, some important sectors of the economy that employ a large number of young people and students – like retail and hospitality – don’t have the margins to absorb such a huge increase to the minimum wage,” Vaughn Hammond, CFIB director of provincial affairs for Newfoundland and Labrador said.
“The many businesses that already pay at least $15 per hour are telling us they will be forced to cut the jobs of younger and lower-skilled workers to accommodate raises in higher wage categories.”
In this province, the NDP have started a petition to have the wage increased from its current cap of $11 to $15. There is conversation in other Canadian provinces to do the same.
According to the CFIB report, more than 60 per cent of minimum wage workers in Canada are young people between the ages of 15 and 24. The CFIB says research has shown that as the minimum wage rises, young workers are the most impacted.
Employers will often choose to hire fewer younger workers or rely more heavily on more experienced workers, as wage costs increase.
“While hiking the minimum wage may sound like a good idea, mounting evidence shows it is a job killer,” Jordi Morgan, CFIB Atlantic vice-president said in the news release Thursday.
“A $15 minimum wage will particularly affect employment opportunities for Atlantic’s youth, a segment of the population who already face significantly higher unemployment.”
Using 2016 labour force survey data, CFIB’s report examines the effects of a $15 minimum wage in each province.
Nationally — if all provinces jumped to a $15 minimum wage — between 184,800 and to 422,400 youth jobs would be put at risk, the federation suggests. These estimates include the number of direct job losses and as well as the drop in the number of jobs being created.
The NDP said on its website that Newfoundland and Labrador has one of the lowest minimum wages in Canada and said the current system forces workers to earn poverty-level incomes.
The NDP is seeking the increase that they feel is a step towards a living wage before indexing the minimum wage to inflation.