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A proposal to link minimum wage increases to the rate of inflation is being lauded by some and panned by others.

A bill is before the Legislature that would see annual minimum wage increases that match the consumer price index as measured by Statistics Canada.

Chair of Make Poverty History Manitoba Josh Brandon says he would be fine with such a move, if the minimum wage is brought up to $15/hour first.

He says minimum wage in Manitoba right now is a poverty wage, and tying it to inflation would entrench it as such. He says at Make Poverty History, they're suggesting linking minimum wage to the poverty line.

"Once we get minimum wage up to a level that's adequate for providing for families, then (it can) go up every year after that. But to start at such a low base would just keep families in poverty," says Brandon.

President and CEO of the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce Chuck Davidson says employers have been looking for greater certainty with increases, which this bill provides.

Davidson says minimum wage is not necessarily the answer to fixing poverty.

"What we have been saying for years is what they should also be doing is raising the basic personal exemption because that will... allow people even on lower incomes to keep more money that they earn," he says.

Davidson says the cost of increasing minimum wage to $15/hour would be passed onto consumers.

Brandon says we certainly need a comprehensive plan to end poverty in Manitoba, but minimum wage is an important part of that. He says we do need to recognize there may be some businesses that would need help transitioning (to a $15/hour minimum wage), but he says that support shouldn't be "put on the backs of the most vulnerable workers."

Minimum wage in Manitoba is currently $11/hour.

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