This Wednesday, labour unions across Canada rally for a $15 minimum wage. But not all workers support the movement. Some resent having to share wages they have worked their way up to; others spread fearful predictions of economy-crippling inflation. Few evoke precedents.
When the minimum wage increased in 2011, after a 10-year freeze, Premier Christy Clark stated that the raise was “a fair and reasonable step forward in putting families first and building our economy.”
Today, minimum wage does neither.
And while this fight is crucial, union presidents argue that the big-picture goal is to improve working conditions and “bring precariously employed workers out of poverty.”
A 2011 survey conducted by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) states that “poverty is consistently linked to poor health, lower literacy, poor school performance for children, more crime, and greater stress for family members,” and it is “society as a whole that bears the costs of poverty”—a cost as high as $9.2 billion a year in B.C. alone. This pales in comparison to the CCPA’s projected “$3–4 billion needed to implement a comprehensive poverty reduction plan.”
Certain American cities have begun phasing in a $15 minimum wage over periods of several years. This illusory solution does not tackle poverty, but instead delays further discussion of inadequate pay until $15 is reached—by then, devalued with inflation.
Dismissing the issue by suggesting workers get an education or a better job is ignorant of the necessity of their contributions.
Our community prides itself on supporting local businesses. Let us not support these at the expense of our local work force. Support swift minimum wage increase. Support the eradication of poverty in our community, our province and our country.