January 31, 2014

Students were very pleased today to see the Nova Scotia Government approve a 10-cent increase to the province’s minimum wage, keeping it near the basic standard set by the low income cut off (LICO). Since 2004, the minimum hourly wage in Nova Scotia has risen from $6.50 to $10.40.

“This is a very positive policy and we applaud the new government for their commitment to students and other minimum wage workers”, said StudentsNS Executive Director, Jonathan Williams. “These minimum wage increases ensure that students are fairly compensated for their work and protected from inflationary erosion of basic incomes.”

Students make up a significant proportion of the Nova Scotia workforce that is paid minimum wage. According to Statistics Canada, “close to 80% of teenagers and young adults hold a part-time minimum-wage job while pursuing their studies.” Almost two-thirds of minimum wage workers are under the age of 25, totaling one-in-six workers – and one-in-five women workers – in this age bracket. In total, approximately 23,600 employees in Nova Scotia earned minimum wage in 2011.

“It’s clear that this decision significantly benefits students, considering how many work minimum wage jobs to help themselves get through school”, said Matthew Rios, Vice Chair of StudentsNS. “Students are often paid minimum wage and depend on that money to pay for their tuition, to pay down their debt load and to maintain the most basic quality of life.”

Of course, as the Minimum Wage Committee noted in 2013, students “still face significant challenges in funding their education.” In fact, the 1% minimum wage increase falls well short of the 3% tuition growth that Nova Scotia students saw this year, even as other costs also continued to rise.

“While we’re encouraged by this minimum wage raise, this must be part of broader efforts to support youth incomes, and post-secondary access and affordability”, said Williams. “Despite the important recent improvements to student assistance, it is always worrying to see tuition growing faster than student wages.”

Additionally, many students and graduates are struggling to find work in the first place. Youth unemployment is more than double the rate of the general population.

“Nova Scotia’s current and future prosperity depends on ensuring that young people are successfully transitioning into the workplace without crippling debt,” said Rios. “We still have work to do to ensure young people have opportunities to succeed here in Nova Scotia.”

For more information, please contact:

Jonathan Williams
StudentsNS Executive Director
Phone: (902) 422.4068
Email: [email protected]