BY JODY ANDERSON
The seemingly constant discussion about the proper minimum wage heated up again when it was raised to an even $11 per hour in Ontario.
Premier Kathleen Wynne also promised legislation that would tie future increases to the rate of inflation.
Though an increase in minimum wage is welcome news to many, it still leaves many living in poverty. What a living wage is depends entirely on your personal circumstances, especially whether you have children to support or not. If you do and happen to be a single parent (as 19.3 per cent of people with children under the age of 14 were in 2011, according to statcan.ca), $11 an hour would not be enough.
Whether you should be able to live on minimum wage or not is a debate that comes up often. When people hear the term minimum wage, they picture 16-year-olds at fast food chains saving up for their new cellphone or first car.
That, however, is an idealistic image that does not hold much truth in 2014. Most available jobs pay minimum wage or just above minimum wage. Not everyone can be a tradesperson or a manager in some office building, and even if they could, those jobs aren’t that plentiful.
Factory workers, too, are in a bad position with many of them making just a few dollars an hour more than minimum wage. With the increase to $11 per hour these factory workers are even closer to the minimum.
The Workers Action Centre, a self-described “worker-based organization committee,” wants a $14 per hour minimum wage which they say would bring workers earning this amount to 10 per cent above the poverty line.
That would be a massive change, for both employees and employers. The problem is it would force some employers to lay off staff, something our precarious economy doesn’t need. The upcoming minimum wage increase is a start but it doesn’t solve the problem. What has been said is that people feel they should be able to support themselves with a full-time job. It sounds strange, because it is so obvious but it isn’t the current paradigm. It doesn’t have to be the ideal life either; an apartment, a car, utilities and food. It adds up quickly and the money disappears just as fast.
There needs to be a balance, for those small businesses that don’t make as much money, but jobs, all full-time jobs, should be worthwhile.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.