The Saskatchewan government is boosting the minimum wage to $13 per hour in October and says it will increase it to $15 in 2024.
On Monday, Premier Scott Moe announced during question period that the provincial government was considering increasing the minimum wage based on the market and said the increase would be "substantial."
Saskatchewan has the lowest minimum wage in Canada at $11.81 per hour.
On Tuesday, the government announced the minimum wage will increase over next three years. This October it will move to $13, in October 2023 it will go to $14 and in October 2024 it will reach $15.
The province says it has a formula based on the inflation rate which dictates how much the wage increases annually. Moe said Monday that after the hike, Saskatchewan would go back to the following the formula.
Before the last hike in October, the minimum wage was $11.45. Alberta's minimum wage has been $15 since 2018.
When the increase takes effect, Saskatchewan will have the second-lowest minimum wage. Manitoba will reach $12.35 in October. New Brunswick's hourly wage will increase from $12.75 to $13.75 in October.
"World events continue to put upward pressure on the cost of living in Saskatchewan and across Canada," Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said in a news release.
"Our government is committed to ensuring life is affordable for our low-income residents by increasing the minimum wage over the next three years. This commitment to affordability will support Saskatchewan workers, and ensure Saskatchewan is the best place to live, work, and raise a family."
The Opposition and labour groups have been advocating for a $15 minimum wage in the province for some time.
On Monday, NDP MLA Nicole Sarauer said the timing of the announcement was unusual, with stakeholders like the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour receiving no warning it was coming.
The government release said the increase was moving away from the formula for the next three years to "reflect a move to more closely align workers' salaries with changing market forces."
"As we continue to grow Saskatchewan, we want to attract quality investments and jobs so that all citizens can benefit. Making this change to the minimum wage is a step in that direction," Morgan said.
'Long ways to go': SFL president
The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL), which represents more than 100,000 employees, said it welcomes the news of the wage hike but is calling for the minimum wage to be $15 an hour right away and go up from there. Unifor, Canada's largest union in the private sector, and the Opposition NDP echoed the call.
"It's a start. And I think it's going to help people that work and earn minimum wage. We've got a long ways to go," SFL president Lori Johb said.
In two years time, the minimum wage should be $20 an hour, Johb said.
"We've surpassed the $15-an-hour minimum wage mark where that actually means a living wage," said NDP associate labour critic Jennifer Bowes.
Minister Morgan said the wage hike is being phased in over time to give businesses time to adjust. He predicts 45,000 workers will be impacted by the change.