The wallet of international student Alberto Chavez, after being asked about the increase of the minimum wage. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

New Brunswick’s recent increase to its minimum wage has many students questioning if it will actually help combat the rising cost of living at a time when inflation rates continue to soar.

The provincial government announced in 2021 that it would raise the minimum wage from $11.75 to $13.75 by the end of 2022. Officials made the first increase to $12.75 on April 1 and made the second increase on Oct. 1.

New Brunswick now has the highest minimum wage in all of Atlantic Canada, with Nova Scotia’s minimum wage being at $13.60 and both Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador at $13.70.

Ana Cañarte, a third-year student from Ecuador and Colombia at St. Thomas University, works three jobs and has to keep her grades to maintain the scholarship that allows her to study in Canada. She said the transition to living in a completely different country is already expensive and stressful enough.

She says while an extra dollar is significant, it isn’t enough to combat growing high prices and it makes her feel overwhelmed.

“The wellness of international students is not being taken care of, even with this increase,” said Cañarte. “[Spending] makes me feel insecure and concerned because I have so much to deal with in terms of money.”

Cañarte said most of her money goes to paying rent and groceries, leaving her very little to save or spend on things she wants. While she appreciates the increase in her pay cheque, she wants to see other forms of government support, such as more scholarships and bursaries.

Carla Guibovich, a second-year student from Peru at STU, works two jobs on campus and said the increase is very helpful to her. Much like Cañarte, Guibovich said spending money causes her “great concerns,” but she hopes her relationship with money might get better after this raise.

“[The increase] prevents me from worrying too much and treating myself with friends,” she said.

Guibovich is optimistic about the new minimum wage and said New Brunswick needs to be in touch with a worker’s reality.

“If prices keep going up, then I believe that the minimum wage should increase with it,” said Guibovich.

Still, she remains anxious about increases to her rent, especially knowing New Brunswick’s rent cap comes to an end on Dec. 31. 

“It’s [hard] enough to find a place where it’s a reasonable price,” she said.