When I got my first job as a student back in the 1960’s, my contemporaries and I fantasized about some day working for “ten bucks an hour” ! That is now the minimum wage right across this land, and no one is celebrating.
Manitoba has just announced that its minimum will rise in October to $10.70 an hour which will put it a whole 50 cents ahead of Saskatchewan. The stories that follow such announcements are entirely predictable. Organized labour says it’s not enough. Businesses in the service sector say they can’t afford it, and jobs will be lost.
The politicians and their spin doctors don’t help at all. When the most recent increase was announced in Saskatchewan, Labour minister Don Morgan said “the increase will give the poor more disposable income, and improve their standard of living.” Can anyone seriously believe that?
As we get more immersed in the global economy, the pressure to keep wages low will only get worse. Believe it or not, there are many Canadians who scratch out a living on less than minimum wage.
A decade ago when I was doing a variety of odd jobs to pay the bills, I delivered prescriptions part-time. There are many similar jobs out there, and they all pay a small amount for each delivery. When I figured in the cost of gas, and wear and tear on my vehicle, the take home pay was no where near minimum wage.
For millions of Canadians, this is the economic reality in 2014. In the past few months, life has become even harder thanks to a significant spike in the cost of groceries. Food banks, which didn’t exist in Canada 40 years ago, are doing a booming business. The sad part is what all of this does to Canadians’ hopes and dreams, and our faith in the future.
I’m Roger Currie