Moncton — The New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity welcomes the provincial government's decision to increase the minimum wage by $2.00 an hour by October 2022 and urges the government to move towards a living wage and pass pay equity legislation for the private sector as soon as possible.
" The pandemic has highlighted the need to increase women's wages and ensure their economic security. It also revealed that low-wage jobs are not low-skilled jobs, but rather, underpaid jobs," says Krysta Cowling, Chair of the Coalition for Pay Equity. " This important increase in the minimum wage will benefit the large number of people working in essential and underpaid jobs, often predominantly female jobs, in New Brunswick. However, the government’s work is not over. The minimum wage must reach a living wage and we need pay equity legislation for the private sector."
At present, 57% of minimum wage workers in New Brunswick are women. They account for 82% of cashiers and 95% of home care workers and early childhood educators.  Racialized and Indigenous women are disproportionately represented in low-wage, tip-driven jobs at or just above minimum wage. 
"Raising the minimum wage could be transformative for women, but the announced wage of $13.75 will be insufficient. Community organizations have been calling for a $15 minimum wage for a long time, but that amount now falls well below the living wage," Cowling adds.
The Human Development Council estimates that the living wage for New Brunswick ranges from $17.50 per hour in Bathurst to $21.20 in Fredericton in 2021. The living wage is the amount of money a household needs to earn to meet its basic needs while enjoying a decent quality of life.
"New Brunswick was at the lowest end of the national rankings and has much catching up to do. The province must reach living wage levels and enact pay equity legislation for the private sector. This would not only lift people out of poverty, but also provide greater stability in job sectors struggling to retain and recruit workers," adds Cowling. "It's not a labor shortage, it's a shortage of rights and wages.”
 NB data: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census of Population, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-400-X2016304.
 The Canadian Women’s Foundation. (2020, July). Resetting Normal: Women, Decent Work and Canada’s Fractured Care Economy.
 Human Development Council. (2021). Living Wages in New Brunswick.