By Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The territorial government has extended its pandemic wage top-up program that sees eligible employees make $18 an hour opposed to the territory’s normal minimum wage of $13.46.
The program was set to expire on February 28 but will now run until August 31.
As of March 1, individuals over the age of 15 who had wanted to participate in the program in the past financial year, but whose employer declined, can apply directly for the wage top-up to be retroactively applied.
That would cover the April 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021 period.
The application process for individuals in the same situation who want to access the top-up between March 1, 2021 until August 31, 2021 will be announced at a later date.
According to the territory, 96 businesses have participated in the program with 2,337 individuals benefitting from the subsidy since it began in April 2020.
It has cost over $2.6 million to run the program thus far.
Talks about the minimum wage, and whether or not it will be raised, are still being held at the territorial level.
In the Legislative Assembly on February 9, Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly said he believes rolling back the minimum wage once the program expires would be “completely unfair.”
“The need for this program is a clear sign that our minimum wage is too low, far too low,” O’Reilly said.
Employment minister R.J. Simpson said the long-term future of the minimum wage was still being decided.
“The minister is currently reviewing the report from the Minimum Wage Committee,” the Department of Education, Culture and Employment said in an email to Cabin Radio.
“He intends to make a decision on the minimum wage in the near future.”
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