For Immediate Release
Students were pleased today to see the Nova Scotia Government approve a 20-cent increase to the province’s minimum wage, keeping it at 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 $10.60.
“We are pleased that the Province is maintaining its commitment to tying the minimum wage to the low-income cut-off”, said StudentsNS President, Brandon Hamilton. “These minimum wage increases ensure that students and other minimum-wage workers are fairly compensated for their work and protected from inflationary erosion of basic incomes.”
Students make up a significant proportion of those Nova Scotians who are 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, totalling one-in-six workers – and one-in-five women workers – in this age bracket. In total, approximately 23,600 employees in Nova Scotia earned the minimum wage in 2011.
“This policy significantly benefits students, given how many work minimum wage jobs to help themselves get through school”, said Callie Lathem, VP University Affairs of StudentsNS. “Students often depend on minimum wage work 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 experienced this year, even as other costs also continued to rise.
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, while Nova Scotia has had at least 28 straight years of net youth out-migration. Nevertheless, the Province cut $35 million out of support for youth retention in the 2014 budget.
“Nova Scotia’s current and future prosperity depends on young people, but we are losing many of them each year without anywhere near enough action from government,” said Hamilton. “It’s imperative that the Province do more to help young people succeed in this province.”
StudentsNS has launched a website highlighting the different initiatives that could be funded to support youth retention and attraction: www.farewelltonovascotia.ca
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Students Nova Scotia is a not-for-profit and non-partisan advocacy group that represents 37,794 Nova Scotia post-secondary students, including 86% of the university student population. Our members study at Acadia, Cape Breton, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s, and St. Francis Xavier Universities, the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College, and the Atlantic School of Theology.
For more information, please contact:
Jonathan Williams, StudentsNS Executive Director
Phone: 902 483 5480
Brandon Hamilton, StudentsNS President
Phone: 902 867 2435