The change in wage policy was announced by Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk. “Having a different minimum wage for liquor servers recognizes these individuals earn a significant part of their income from tips,” Lukaszuk said. “It will also give business owners greater flexibility in the way they pay other staff.”
Changes to the minimum wage have been hotly contested across the county by the CRFA. When Lukaszuk asked the Standing Committee on the Economy to look into the province’s minimum wage policy, the group was flooded with form letters from association members, according to a report by Karen Kleiss in the Edmonton Journal.
According to the Journal, the standing committee initially rejected the move to a differential scheme in its report, saying: “A minimum wage differential for employees who receive gratuities or for new employees to receive a training minimum wage creates a minimum-wage policy that is too complex. Albertans prefer simple policies over complex policies.”
However, the CRFA disagrees, noting other provinces have successfully made the move, and the wage differential is good for the industry in the province. “Alberta’s new approach to minimum wage will provide our members with more certainty and stability when it comes to hiring and labour budgeting,” says Mark von Schellwitz, vice- president, Western Canada for the CRFA. “This is important for one of Alberta’s largest private-sector employers.”
While the association is pleased with the direction taken by the Alberta provincial government, it was quick to note its disappointment in the lack of a training wage differential, a proposal, which would see new employees paid a lower rate for their first 500 hours of service.
“We were also hoping for a training wage differential to encourage employers to hire more first-time employees,” said von Schellwitz in a press release.