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The 10$/hr proposed minimum wage is the right thing to do.

So I’ve seen Jason calling for the 10$ an hr minimum wage to be rejected by Ontarions, and a lot of debate (and some of it rather heated) in response. It was intended as a broadside against the provincial NDP who called for it, but as Jason noted, the Toronto Star editorial board has endorsed it, (but from what I read, the Star endorsed it prior to the NDP calling for it).

I’m not going to get into overheated rhetoric here (I reject the charge that Jason and others are “sexist” for opposing this) but I’ll go at this from a personal angle.

Before I was let go in August from my last job, I was a salaried employee making roughly about $10.13/hr. I live in a small town of 11 000 people. I pay 325$ a month in rent (utilities extra), and I’m single, with only a cat to worry about supporting at the moment. I dont have a license to drive (by personal choice), so I dont have car payments or gasoline to worry about. I had a student loan from University that I had to worry about paying off by monthly deductions for most of the time I was working as well.

I was able to get by because of my current situation and where I live. I can flatly state that for people living in the bigger cities with higher rents and other payments they need to worry about, plus supporting a family, 10$ an hr would be a hard go to get by on.. so I can only imagine what people currently are doing now who are only at minimum wage.

Quite frankly, it infuriates me when I see that the minimum wage earner in Canada makes 16000/yr (close to the poverty line, if not below it), and we have the Top 100 executives in Canada making 38 000 by 9am, but as Jacob over at his blog says:

In terms of CEO salaries, I often hear people speak in terms of “what the market will bear”. When it comes to increasing minimum wage, I often hear people speak of fear that the market might suffer. Surely, there is a position between these two extremes which would better serve us in setting all wages in our economy.

I believe that a minimum wage is set to ensure 2 things – that employers can’t take advantage of people, particularly those who are immigrants or those who are desperate enough to do jobs other people will not – and as the Star does, to guarantee everyone who works has a tolerable standard of living. The current minimum wage does not allow for that, so raising it to 10$ an hr certainly has the support of this social-reform minded liberal/Liberal. Being slightly above most of the US State’s minimum wage (which seems to be our standard up here – if its higher then the US, we’re a better place to live in, without us ever bothering to look at the rest of the Western industrialized democracies) isn’t good enough – not for me anyhow.

The Star also points out some other good things are needed besides this if we want to eliminate poverty in Canada, and I encourage you to read their list of additional things they have proposed. A party that wanted to base its appeal on being seen as believing in social justice and social fairness would do well to propose most (if not all) of what the Star proposes.

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30 comments to The 10$/hr proposed minimum wage is the right thing to do.

  • Heh.. how did you manage to do that? Its only been the subject of every other blogposting on either the Liblogs or Prog Blog aggregates the past couple of days

    Life happens.

  • lrC

    >Why is it different federally?

    Lots more hands out to satisfy across Canada than in Alberta.

  • Catnip said:
    [quote comment=”392″]Wow. Grrr. I missed this whole debate.[/quote]

    Heh.. how did you manage to do that? Its only been the subject of every other blogposting on either the Liblogs or Prog Blog aggregates  the past couple of days :em19:

  • Wow. Grrr. I missed this whole debate. Perhaps for Cherniak, whose future earnings look quite bright as a lawyer, people stuck in poverty year in and year out are just not that big a deal.

    Oh it’s nice to think that government programs will take care of all of us poor people but until you start to actually examine those programs, you have no idea how little is, in fact, being offered. And throwing out helpful little tidbits like “just get a roommate and you too will be able to work at minimum wage as you pay off your house” sounds really nice – in theory – as well. I could tell you stories about living with roommates…

    This is a quality of life issue. That’s the overall question to be pondered. And when you live on regressively low minimum wages, your struggle to survive (which is the lowest rung on Maslow’s heirarchy of needs) becomes your entire life. Aren’t we about more than mere survival in this country?

  • Why is it different federally

    No oil under Ottawa. Which, at any rate, would be Dalton’s good luck I guess.

  • Speaking of daycare, as someone above was, you should see the subsidies available.

  • For a conservative province, you have to give Alberta credit. Personal deduction $15,345. Spouse or common-law partner deduction $15,345 (also works for kids if not married/common-law). Caregiver amount (if caregiver doesn’t have an appreciable income) $4160. Infirm dependants >18 $4160. Transfers of unused credits from a spouse – to the max of above.

    A single parent of one child has to earn AT LEAST 30,690 to pay any AB income tax.

    Why is it different federally?

  • Aaron said:
    [quote comment=”372″]I’m confused. Scott, were you making 10.13 an hour or 1013 a month?[/quote]

    Whoops.. 10.13/hr.

    Not everyone is lucky enough to get another partner as a wage-earner to help out, Aaron. Sad but true. I can only believe you’re being sarcastic with that proposed solution.

  • This might sound a little inane, but I think 9 dollars might have been a better proposal all-around. I would personally have benefited quite handsomely from either a 9 or 10 dollar basement in recent years; I generally earned a little more, but of course, that was in relation to Nova Scotia’s existing low-end wage structure.

    Nice wedge issue for the NDP to divide Liberals with, it would seem. I quite understand Jason and James’ views on the matter, but it’s very hard for me to see the proposal as disastrous. There are economic costs and economic benefits to altering low-end wages, but at the end of the day, if the effects are not dramatically good or bad, the question returns to what we think about 8, 9 or 10 dollars as a living wage? How high can we make the minimum wage without harming people as a whole more than we help them?

  • I’m confused. Scott, were you making 10.13 an hour or 1013 a month?

    There are things that people can do to deal with being a minimum wage-earner. Like take on another wage-earner. This might mean getting a boyfriend, it might mean getting a roomie. I know a Chinese couple in (gasp) Calgary that have both worked at minimum-wage jobs since arriving in Calgary. Not a glamorous lifestyle, to be sure, but they did manage to pay off a home in Temple and raise three kids. One of which is coming out of an Oxford degree and headed into law school.

  • burlivespipe

    in BC we have the dreaded ‘training wage’ which is $6 an hour… There will obviously be an impact on small business owners on any increase of the minimum wage, however in the large cities and great parts of the west the ceiling for a minimum wage has risen by exterior force. Business is booming but to attract employees and hold them companies have to compete. BC should boost its minimum upwards (not necessarily to $10 but certainly close), drop the training wage and invest in gov’t office to investigate illegal workforce.

  • Aack! That didn’t come through correctly. The first two paragraphs were to be quoted…

  • Because, Berlynn, with all due respect, I reject your stance of seeming to take everything that happens in politics today and turning into somehow it being based on gender-based politics, or on it being based on a sexist agenda. I dont see the “hidden agenda” behind every corner that you do.

    This affects women, yes, but it also affects men. It affects immigrants, of both sexes, and poor people of both sexes.

    You don’t hear me, do you? You can’t see beyond your ideas of feminism, can you?

    Scott, it *is* women who are primarily impacted by a low minimum wage. It is women who hold the vast majority of positions that pay minimum wage. See Eugene’s second post. It is not a hidden agenda. It is right out there and visible for all to see. Women are the cheap labour pool on which our capitalist system depends. That is a women’s issue. And it has been a women’s issue for many years now.

    And yes, you are young.

  • Well, being a single father of two children aged 8 and 10, I can tell you that Harper bucks does f all for me. Cancelling Dryden’s national daycare plan was a step in the wrong direction. And yes, I pay for my children’s after school programs dearly.

    I am one of those small business owners whose bottom line is going to be affected by the “small wage increase” here in Ontario if it rises to $10 an hour. Perhaps it won’t be as much as someone in the retail sector, however, it will still affect the bottom line.

  • Locusta emesonia

    Please, please someone do the math on what a minimum wage earner would pay for day care to another minimum wage earner.
    Let’s try just one min wage mom working 10 hrs at a deli, paying for only 2.5 hrs after school care for a 2 year old (family member looks after the child 7.5 hours a day unpaid). Try it for a 5 year old in school. Then do the math for a 7 year old, not forgetting the $100 Harper Bucks being subtracted from the equation.
    It still sucks.
    But wait! Two minimum wage earners with a child 7 years old requiring only 2.5 hours per day childcare equals…
    Fortunately living in BC with the Olympics coming and all, hardly anyone here makes minimum wage. Those who do, well they’re just losers. They oughta get a job in Whistler. Or hit up Emerson since he’s done so much for trade and business in his riding of Vancouver-Kingsway.

    Snark: the only obvious work he’s done or has had done is re-paint his office sign from red to blue, and who knows that might have been partisan volunteer work written off by the constituency office. Though maybe Emerson paid some painter minimum wage to paint his office sign blue… for about $20 or fair market value.

  • The $10 minimum wage debate is raging in British Columbia, too:

    http://www.devonrowcliffe.ca/blog/?p=224

  • Of course lost in all this “let’s help people pay their bills” stuff is the fact the the small business owner won’t be able to employ any of them because he/she (don’t want any sexist comments directed my way) won’t be able to afford them.

    Let’s see how easy this math is. Say a person employs 20 minimum wage earners at 16,500 per year in Toronto. Rents expensive and the company grinds out a measely profit every year…just enough to keep the owner from seeking employment somewhere else. So we raise the minimum wage to $10. This ends up being a new yearly wage for his/her employees of $20,500. Only a mere $4000 a year you say? Hurray for the employee!

    One problem. $80,000 a year just came off the owner’s bottom line. Oops. Time for the owner to go get a job somewhere else. Bye bye employees…all 20 of them.

    Anyway. I know nothing.

    The What Do I Know Grit

  • lrC

    >I believe that a minimum wage is set to ensure 2 things – that employers can’t take advantage of people, particularly those who are immigrants or those who are desperate enough to do jobs other people will not –

    If the goal is to protect people against abuses, minimum wage policies fail horribly. What sort of jobs do you think are done by people whose labour value doesn’t at least come close to a statutory minimum wage? Answer: under-the-table jobs. No benefits, no protections. Even the worker will collude with the employer in concealing his own status if the alternative is unemployment. Good job of looking after them you’ve done. We can’t claim that every employer would suddenly fall in line with every labour regulation if there were no set floors on wages, but we can reasonably expect at least some of them would come in from the cold.

    >and as the Star does, to guarantee everyone who works has a tolerable standard of living.

    That’s great for those who still have work. (Of course, most people whose labour is worth a living wage are already earning a living wage far above any province’s minimum wage.) Do you care about the people who won’t have jobs at all because the wage floor is too far above what anyone will pay them?

  • Cherniak’s claim that the MPP raise is not really that big of a deal is a mistake.

    Everywhere I went over the holidays and spoke with working, middle class people they all bitched at me about how MPP’s just took that huge raise.

    I hope McGuinty wins again and I’m going to be helping on the campaign but using his line about MPP’s getting poached to work in Ottawa for better money doesn’t sit that well when you’re chatting around the kitchen table with two people who are unemployed in Northern Ontario where most mines, mills, lodges and hotels are closing.

    Let’s just say they could care less about MPP’s going to Ottawa instead of Queen’s Park – they care a lot more about an emerging recession happening north of Parry Sound.

  • Berlynn wrote:

    [quote comment=”350″]Scott, I am beginning to doubt you’ll ever get this, but I’ll try to explain.

    Why is this so difficult for you young men?[/quote]

    Because, Berlynn, with all due respect, I reject your stance of seeming to take everything that happens in politics today and turning into somehow it being based on gender-based politics, or on it being based on a sexist agenda. I dont see the “hidden agenda” behind every corner that you do.

    This affects women, yes, but it also affects men. It affects immigrants, of both sexes, and poor people of both sexes.

    By the way, I appreciate that you consider 36 yrs old to be “young” :em47:

  • Jason Cherniak said:

    [quote comment=”348″]But Scott, explain to me why raising the minimum wage is a better response than lowering taxes on the first $20,000 earned or incresing things like PST credits. The fact that people earning $16,000 need support is beyond debate. The debate is about how best to help them.[/quote]

    Sure, you can do that, Jason.. but in combination with the raising of the minimum wage to a decent minimum that allows a “minimum tolerable standard”. Otherwise, its just half-measures that won’t be effective.

    The Star as I am sure you are quite aware is calling for 7 things to be introduced/reformed/implemented. It isnt an either this or that.. its all of them. I dont see anything out of their list that seems to me to be unreasonable that all couldnt be implemented.

  • Glad to see you on side with this, Scott. Minimum wage workers cannot wait for a GST/PST cheque to come in the mail when their rent is due *now*.

    Also, I sincerely hope your next job pays better than your last one! :em11: :em21:

  • Scott, I am beginning to doubt you’ll ever get this, but I’ll try to explain.

    We live in a patriarchy, a society established and dominated by male ways of thinking and doing, by laws and regulations that do not take into full account the real lives of women. Can we agree on this much?

    I think you will concede that full-time working women earn about 72 percent of their male counterparts, that part-time working women fare even worse, and that women hold the majority of the minimum-waged, part-time positions in this country. So, when the minimum wage goes up, it is primarily women who benefit.

    To disregard that reality is to engage in sexist thinking and behaviors.

    Why is this so difficult for you young men?

  • Walkswithcoffee

    Why not a minimum wage equal to $1500/month for full-time work *plus* zip taxes… why the the either or between a minimum wage and tax breaks?

    At 10 or 11 bucks an hour its not reasonable to expect to support government (and its services) from such low incomes. Is anything meaningful nor helpful being accomplished with such taxation and wages?

    So, why not zip taxes up to about the poverty line plus setting the minimum wage the poverty line – both?

  • But Scott, explain to me why raising the minimum wage is a better response than lowering taxes on the first $20,000 earned or incresing things like PST credits. The fact that people earning $16,000 need support is beyond debate. The debate is about how best to help them.

  • I appreciate you sharing your own experience, Scott. It brings a face to these issues. I honestly can’t understand Cherniak’s math…I mean, don’t most of us have expenses other than food? Laundry, transportation (car or otherwise), …

    I fully agree that we should not confuse the best conditions for the market with those for suporting and nurturing a society.

  • Actually the NDP called for the minimum wage increase earlier in the fall, this is their second attempt to get this passed.

  • I was a salaried employee making roughly about $10.13 a week.

    Where do you work, China?

    I can flatly state that for people living in the bigger cities with higher rents and other payments

    Actually that’s a fallacy. As someone who was a landlord in both the big city of Toronto and the small town of Huntsville, I can attest to the fact that rents are pretty comparable. About the only difference is that in Toronto you won’t get the same quality of accomodation for your money.

    As to other expenses, I never noticed a difference when I moved to Huntsville.

  • […] Meanwhile, I can hardly believe that minimum wage isn’t $10/hour in Ontario yet. There just isn’t enough money there for a family to live on, but it fits with the absurd wages of Canada’s richest people. Life’s like that unfortunately – the rich get richer, and the poor tend to stay poorer. Hopefully 2007 is a more equitable year for all Canadians, and we see a massive personal income tax cut in the form of a personal exemption level rising to something that makes more sense than what we have now. […]

  • […] More on raising the minimum wage from; Accidental Deliberations who notes that the top CEOs in Canada earned in less than 36 hours this year what it takes a minimum wage worker to make in a year. Politics’n’Poetry who brings up the point that single mothers are among the hardest hit by a low minimum wage. Le Revue Gauche who points out that opposition to minimum wage increases is so conservative. Accidental Deliberations again who addresses one of Cherniak’s arguments by pointing out that if the minimum wage had risen at the same rate as corporate profits have over the past ten years it would now be in excess of $13/hour. Le Revue Gauche again who digs up a StatsCan report on the number of full time workers making less than $10/hour. Deven Rowcliffe who reports on British Columbia’s minimum wage debate. Scott’s Diatribes who has several reasons in favour of the increase. Cowboys For Social Responsibility who notes that Alberta has already seen an unenforced raise in minimum wage past $10/hour without the sky falling. […]

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