By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – Brian Pallister will be working with other premiers to promote free trade during a trip to Washington in the coming days, but he’s taken aim at the Alberta and Ontario governments in a video posted online.
The Manitoba premier criticizes minimum wage increases in Ontario and Alberta, saying the change will reduce the number of entry-level jobs in those provinces.
The video was posted by Pallister’s Progressive Conservative party on Friday and shows a brief speech by Pallister to supporters in a provincial byelection campaign in Winnipeg.
Pallister says the Ontario and Alberta governments are “left of centre” and their plans for a $15-an-hour minimum wage will hurt opportunities for young people.
Pallister and Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne are among several premiers heading to Washington, D.C. this week to try to convince U.S. politicians not to abandon free trade agreements.
Alberta’s Rachel Notley is not joining the mission.
“You jack up the minimum wage like the left-of-centre Ontario government and the left-of-centre Alberta government are talking about, you know what you do?,” Pallister says on the video.
“You reduce entry level jobs. You stop … young people, especially, from being able to get into the workforce in the first place. There’s only so many bucks out there. And the private sector’s only got so much capacity to create jobs.”
The Ontario Liberal government announced last Tuesday it plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour from the current $11.40 by 2019. Premier Kathleen Wynne said people who work full-time deserve not to live in poverty, and the current minimum does not go far enough.
Alberta’s NDP government announced last year it would enact a $15 minimum wage by 2018.
There have been studies with mixed results on the issue.
One study earlier this year from the University of California rebuffed the idea that a higher minimum wage causes employers to cut jobs or employee hours. It said the higher employee pay boosts the economy and generates more spending.
A study at the University of Wisconsin in 2013, however, found that minimum wage increases dampen job growth for a period of several years.
Pallister’s Tories froze Manitoba’s minimum wage at $11 an hour after winning last year’s election. The Tories are raising it by 15 cents in October and are planning to adjust it with inflation every year thereafter.
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