Try living on the minimum wage of $8/hour in British Columbia and see how far it gets you. Worse, try living on the ‘training wage’ of $6/hour. It’s a no-brainer that anyone on minimum wage can’t afford to put a roof over their head and food on the table. And that’s not factoring in hydro, telephone, transportation, medical, clothing – or kids.In a recent report entitled Myths and Facts about the Minimum Wage in B.C., Iglika Ivanova of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, recommends that the provincial government immediately increase the minimum wage to $10/hour, and eliminate the $6 training wage.When the $8 minimum wage was introduced in 2001 it was the highest in Canada. But since then other provinces have increased their minimum wage levels to adjust for inflation, leaving this province now at the bottom of the rankings. Stats Canada draws the poverty line at an annual wage of $22,229 based on 2009 figures, which is equivalent to a wage of $11.11/hour based on a 40-hour week 50 weeks of the year.The Canadian Federation of Independent Business maintains small businesses can be adversely affected by an increase in the minimum wage. But Ivanova argues that “Employment levels in any economy, including B.C.’s, are determined by a number of factors and minimum wages are a very small player overall.” She lists the economic outlook, commodity prices, the value of the Canadian dollar and global demand for our products all having bigger impacts on the labour market than minimum wage hikes. Besides, she argues, there is no evidence that minimum wage increases in other provinces resulted in loss of jobs.Another myth Ivanova diffused is that few people actually earn minimum wage. While only 2.3 per cent of B.C.’s workers actually earn $8, over 13 per cent of all employees in the province earn under $10/hour. That’s over 250,000 people.Both George Abbott and Mike de Jong, candidates in the Liberal Party leadership race, have policies to review the minimum wage with public consultation. After a nine-year freeze, it’s long overdue.
– Black Press