Alberta officially started its path to reach a minimum salary of $15 an hour by 2018. The cabinet passed the legislation to launch the phased hike on Tuesday.  This surprisingly progressive move will make Alberta the province with the highest minimum wage in the country, and by far.

On October 1st, Alberta’s minimum salary will go from $11.20 to $12.20. It will rise to $13.60 in October 2017 and finally reach $15 on October 1st 2018.

The government has already reduced the gap between the general minimum wage and the one for servers and bartenders (these employees are generally paid less to compensate for the tip they receive) by half. The gap will be completely eliminated next month.

Premier Rachel Notley had promised to raise the minimum wage during last year’s provincial elections. She is now following through with it, despite backlash from business groups and other parties.

Unsurprisingly, detractors of the hike have predicted terrible consequences for the economy.  The opposition is convinced that unemployment will soar and small businesses will burn. Representatives of small businesses have launched a petition against the $15 wage. It should be noted that, despite popular beliefs, research has failed to prove a clear correlation between job losses and minimum wage hikes.

Notley’s party, the Alberta NDP, have relentlessly defended the hike as a necessity.

“Every Albertan should be able to afford rent, transportation and food. These increases will help insure that low wage earners can at least meet their basic needs,” said Labour Minister Christina Gray, when the plan was outlined in June.

There are approximately 305 000 Albertans currently living on minimal wage. According to the government’s numbers, almost two thirds of them are women. 44% have children under eighteen and 7% are single parents.

In 2015, 3.1% of Albertan workers were on minimum wage, but a much larger percentage, currently paid under $15 an hour, will be positively affected by the hike.

The proportion of workers on minimum wage is twice as high in Quebec.  In August, Minister of Finance Carlos Leitao made it very clear what he thought of raising the minimum wage. According to him, $10.75 is within the “advisable range” and the slight readjustment made every year for inflation is more than enough. “I don’t see why we would accelerate this process,” he declared to the Journal de Québec.

He was responding to Alexandre Taillefer, a businessman who gained notoriety through the TV show Les Dragons. Taillefer had called for a $15 minimum wage during the World Social Forum. Parti Québécois and Québec Solidaire are also supporting this idea.

*Featured image credited to Chris Schwartz, Government of Alberta

They say that the young shall inherit the earth and it appears they have no desire to follow in their fathers’ economic, social and political footsteps and who can blame them. The youth in revolt, already tired of life without employment prospects, decent food and freedom are taking to the streets in northern Africa, the Middle East and around the world.

The revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia could never have been successful without the resourcefulness of their countries’ kids. With their love of modern technology, they were able to organize massive rallies and protests using Facebook (even their CEO is a youth!), Twitter and cell phones. They were the main reason why decades of oppression and autocratic rule came to end in these two countries.

Knowing they should not have to settle for anything less than what most adults strive for; peace, justice, liberty and a means to live a healthy and happy life, the fires in their eyes have now spread to other parts of the world. The children of Libya, Bahrain, Iran, Morocco, Yemen and Wisconsin (really, Wisconsin?) have all seen their brothers and sisters take to the streets in recent weeks to vent their anger.

While the youth of the Middle East and Africa are fighting for the freedom that even their fathers have never known, the kids of Wisconsin are fighting for something that their fathers have always taken for granted, the right for government workers to collectively bargain.

Youth on the streets of Wisconsin

Much can be argued about the usefulness of the unions for public workers with the seemingly limitless wallets of the government. The fact is, why should teachers, policemen and firemen have less rights then the plumbers or steel workers? Politicians give out handouts to banks and car companies, build sports stadiums and give out tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy and then they have the nerve to say that not only will you not be getting that annual inflation raise, but we’re going to take away your right to try and do something about it. I digress.

Kids today, just when you’ve witnessed them speak their first words, you turn around and they’re staring down a tank while screaming for freedom. Dissent will always be the realm of the young and I’m happy to see it’s not always about the size of their allowance.