The head of the country’s largest private sector union says Parliament should raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and possibly put future increases into the hands of an independent commission.

Unifor president Jerry Dias says an independent commission could be comprised of key stakeholders to research the effects of minimum wage policy in Canada and tone down the politics involved.

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Dias made the comments Friday morning while appearing before a Senate committee reviewing the government’s sweeping budget bill that includes a provision around the minimum wage in federally-regulated industries. If passed, Bill C-30 would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour or to the provincial rate if it’s higher and peg annual increases to the rate of inflation.

While Dias argued the increase won’t have a negative economic or employment impact, a business group appearing alongside him warned otherwise. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said small- and medium-sized companies may be unable to cover increased payroll costs while revenues remain low, which could result in fewer entry-level hires for young workers or fewer hours for existing staff.

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