Nunavut’s minimum wage will be the highest in the country as of April 1, at $16 an hour, Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak announced Thursday.
NNSL file photo

Nunavut’s minimum wage will rise to $16 an hour as of April 1, Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak announced in the legislative assembly on Thursday.

That pay rate, up from the existing $13 an hour, will make Nunavut’s minimum wage the highest in the country. Currently Alberta is the leader at $15 an hour. The Northwest Territories stands at $13.46 while Yukon is moving up to $13.71 as of April 1.

Ehaloak said the GN’s decision is based on surveys involving Nunavut businesses and residents. Data relating to the cost of living in the territory was analyzed and social supports were taken into consideration, according to Ehaloak.

“The Government of Nunavut understands the high cost of living in the territory, and we are working to address gaps where we can,” she said. “We want Nunavummiut to succeed and we are actively working to support a positive future for our people and communities.”

Nunavut’s minimum wage was hiked to $13 an hour from $11 in 2016.

Nunavut Employees Union (NEU) president William Fennell, welcomed the increase to $16 per hour.

“We are encouraged that the Government of Nunavut has looked to the future in increasing the minimum wage,” Fennell said. “We are also pleased that the government has listened to their constituents and the concerns over the cost of living in the North as expressed in the 1,500 signature PSAC North and NEU petition presented to the legislative assembly in late October. Nunavut has the highest cost of living in Canada and this is a welcomed step in the right direction. People receiving minimum wage in Nunavut have been some of the most disadvantaged people in the country.”

Victor Tootoo, president of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce, also hailed the higher standard, but he advised that consumers can expect to see higher prices as a result.

“The increase to minimum wage is definitely warranted and our minimum wage should be the highest in the country as our costs are definitely the highest in the country,” Tootoo stated. “Increasing the minimum wage will have an effect on the cost of goods and services. While one does not expect to see a 23 per cent increase in costs correlating with the increase in minimum wage, businesses that rely heavily on employees earning minimum wage will see an increase in their costs and that will have to be passed along to the consumer in some form.”

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Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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