Minimum wage

There are a few constants in life: death, taxes and the CFIB opposing increases to the minimum wage.  After having studied this issue in detail, I remain convinced of two things: 1) the government should have a competitive minimum wage (compared to other provinces) and 2) the level of the minimum wage has very little to do with how many people are earning the minimum wage.

As I pointed out before, the last time Stats Canada looked at this, New Brunswick had the lowest percentage of workers right at the minimum wage of any province in Canada but we had a bubble of people working in the just above minimum wage level ($10-$13/hour).  I surmised at the time that this was part of the call centre effect – it was forcing up the wages of secretaries, receptionists, bookkeepers, etc. from the $8-$10/hour range into the $10-13/hour range but not much higher.

I would be interested to see how many non-student workers are at the minimum wage.  I don’t think there are a lot of non-students working at the minimum wage but the public data doesn’t break it down this way.

My point then and now is that the best way to truly raise wage levels is to increase the number of jobs that require more skills and education.  In downtown Toronto, there are lots of people making $9.50/hour.  It doesn’t matter where you are located, certain industries (retail, tourism, food service, etc.) do not pay very great wages.  If they can’t get locals to work at those wages, they bring in immigrants.

That’s a long winded way of saying I approve of a reasonable minimum wage and the Minister says these increases just bring us to the Atlantic Canada average.  Do it.

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