FREDERICTON (GNB) – The end of the year is a time when many New Brunswickers gather with family and friends to celebrate the holiday season, take a break from their daily routines, and enjoy festive events.

Some workers do not get that break, and their contributions to providing a welcome holiday should not be forgotten. From the store clerks selling gifts; the oil, gas and utility workers ensuring homes are warm; the restaurant and supermarket staff making sure fridges and pantries are full; the health workers and first responders keeping people safe; and the road crews clearing the way for travel – all are working to give New Brunswickers the opportunity to make the most of their holiday time.

“Your government is working hard to create consistent economic growth, jobs, and a better quality of life for New Brunswickers and their families,” said Labour, Employment and Population Growth Minister Gilles LePage. “I invite all New Bruswickers to take a moment to reflect upon those who are working and away from their families during the holiday season so others can spend time with theirs. Your government values hard-working New Brunswickers. That is why we have increased the minimum wage and introduced a statutory holiday beginning in February 2018. This holiday will help families and communities come together and strike a good work-life balance during our long winter season.”

Introduced during the spring of 2017, Family Day will be a paid public holiday to be observed on the third Monday in February. Legislation to provide for this new holiday as a prescribed day of rest to all New Brunswick workers, including employees covered by collective agreements, is taking effect on Jan. 1.

Since September 2014, the minimum wage has increased three times, from $10 to $10.65 an hour, and finally to $11.00 per hour on April 1, 2017. Between 2015 and 2016, average weekly earnings increased by 2.3 per cent, the second highest increase among the provinces and territories; year to date in 2017, average weekly earnings in the province have increased by 1.5 per cent. In terms of real GDP, the economy grew by 1.2 per cent between 2015 and 2016, representing positive growth for the third consecutive year. New Brunswick is on track to see annual average employment levels higher in 2017 than those registered in 2016.