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Letters  

Much more complicated

I’m relieved that the government has at least decided to delay the implementation of the $15/hour minimum wage over the next 4 years. That said, I still have concerns with such a high minimum wage. I understand the problem that they are attempting to address, and agree that action is necessary. However, at the end of the day it still seems to be a lazy solution to a very complicated problem.

When you consider the statistics about minimum wage workers, you realize that over 40% of minimum wage workers are teenagers. Once you take the 25 and under demographic into consideration, that number jumps to 60%. Retirees who are likely working for something to do account for another 9%. We also need to consider that the service sector (ie. tipping jobs) accounts for nearly 92% of minimum wage workers. While on paper these people make minimum wage, in reality many of them are earning much, much more.

There are other factors that may contribute to why an individual is working for minimum wage. 80% of teens work for minimum wage because their primary focus is their studies, and 60% in the 20-25 demographic. 50% of minimum wage workers have been at their place of employment for under 1 year.

The big box stores and billion dollar corporations take a big hit, of course, but they can (and will) survive these policies. Not necessarily through increasing their wages, but more likely through investment into automation.

The true victims are the small and medium sized businesses. The people who have poured their heart and soul into their communities and know their employees by name. Many of these businesses already pay their employees more than $15/hour, but the upward pressure that this policy creates will make retention more difficult than it already is. These businesses may have to sacrifice quality service, and forgo extras like medical, dental, bonuses, Christmas parties, employee discounts, and many other employee perks.

It is the Canadian way to ensure the opportunity for success and prosperity for all Canadians, and we need to continue to fight against poverty. Teenagers living at home, retirees with paid-off properties, and servers who take home hundreds of dollars in cash every night are hardly the target for poverty alleviation.

Now I’m not suggesting that we do nothing, I’m suggesting that there are more effective ways to address the issue of wealth inequality. There are many policy tools at our disposal that ensure the right people, the ones who truly need it, are the ones who receive assistance. Working tax benefits, for example, is a very reasonable solution that specifically targets those who need it, and encourages them to continue building their skillset while remaining in the workforce. The government could also incentivize businesses to implement profit-sharing programs, or invest in programs that help unskilled workers build the knowledge and skills required earn a higher wage. All of these solutions would be to the benefit of both worker and employer.

I hope the government considers the fact that there are other options. Ones that aren’t one-sided; to the detriment of one and benefit of the other. Complicated problems can’t be fixed with lackadaisical blanket policies that only address one side of the issue. Real leaders dig deep to first understand issues, and then create solutions that benefit society as a whole… not just the minority that voted for them.

I’d encourage citizens and business owners across this province to voice their concerns to their MLA, the media, and contribute to working towards broader, more effective solutions. At the very least, please consider supporting small, local enterprises.

Ally Turner



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