Minimum wage: Positive step, but not enough

small people figurines standing in front of two piles of coins with their backs to the camera

We are pleased to see that the province has accepted the Minimum Wage Review Committee’s recommendation to expedite the increase of minimum wage in light of the rising cost of living and inflation in the province.

We are encouraged by the initiative to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour on October 1, 2023, and index to inflation along with an additional 1% annual increase starting April 1, 2025.

These are welcome, positive steps forward, yet the fact remains that these rates are considerably below the living wages in Nova Scotia. As record-high food inflation causes a steep increase in both the number of food bank visitors and visits, we know a large number of Nova Scotians will still be in the grasp of food insecurity and poverty. We also know historically marginalized Indigenous and Black populations, immigrants, those with disabilities, members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and children are, and will continue to be, disproportionately affected by food insecurity and poverty.

Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - Nova Scotia

There is a clear correlation between minimum wage and food insecurity, as studies find that a $1 increase in the minimum wage reduces the odds of food insecurity by 5%. While increased minimum wage is part of the equation, we also know increased Income Assistance rates, affordable housing, and reduced out-of-pocket expenditure on prescription drugs play integral roles in reducing food insecurity. A weak social infrastructure that fails to support the vulnerable population results in a strong manifestation of poverty and food insecurity. 

We urge the government to work toward setting a higher minimum wage closer to the living wage as part of an intergovernmental collaborative poverty reduction plan that increases food insecurity and social inclusion. 

We hope the government listens to the call of the times and introduces timely and effective policy solutions that will allow every Nova Scotian to meet their most basic needs and live a life of dignity and opportunity.