Minimum Wage Rant

Keep in mind that I have been working minimum wage jobs for most of my life and I very likely will continue to do so for the rest of my life too. So naturally I am biased towards raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

In my opinion I agree with this move because $10 an hour for ANY job is NOT a living wage. I believe that anybody who says that they can live on $10 an hour working a 40-hour workweek has actually never had to do that.

Yes, I graduated from High School and I even graduated from a technical school too. Unfortunately my diploma in Photographic Technologies is not worth the paper it was printed on. Mainly because photography (and technology) has changed so much in 20 years that I might as well go back to school and take Photography again or get an education in a real trade. That is if I could afford to go to school on a budget of one $10 an hour 40-hour job workweek. Most students I know have at least THREE jobs, have loans up the Yin Yang and still cannot keep enough food on the table to think straight. In other words I would most likely end up cracking under the pressure and my body being dragged from the North Saskatchewan River. So going through school again is most likely out of the question. And by the way, I finally paid off my student loan 8 years ago, a full 12 years AFTER I graduated. Since then I have only been able to find minimum wage jobs. So I believe that I have some knowledge on how to live on minimum wage.

In Alberta, up until a couple years ago, we were the RICHEST province in Canada and had the LOWEST minimum wage in Canada too. So when businesses start crying foul and fear mongering that they can’t afford to give their employees a raise without going under I pull out the world’s smallest violin and call bullshit. Large businesses should be able to afford to give their employees a raise once every so often in order to keep up with the rising inflation, standard of living and not mention keep quality workers around. I mean if you think that training is cheap, then you try training new staff every couple of months just to have all that time and money wasted when the employee bails for greener pastures. I for one have worked at a large company and they paid me $6 an hour more than minimum wage. So I stuck around for a number years until the downturn in the 90s when I was laid off and you guessed it, back to living in poverty.

I have no doubts that independent businesses will most likely feel the pinch and may indeed go under. But to small AND large companies alike I tell them what they told me when they laid me off, that that is just the cost of doing business. It should also be just the cost of doing business to hand out a 50 cent raise to their employees every year so that we stick around for longer than a couple of months.

So now there is a change of government in Alberta after 44 long, long years! The new government is planning on raising the minimum wage to $15 in increments over 3 years and most businesses are crying foul. Congratulations, now YOU know what it feels like to have a gun pointed at your head. I have had to slink into a job that I disliked for minimum wage because that was all I could find and all that they could afford. That pretty much seemed like a gun pointed to my head anyway. Had these same businesses crying foul gave out raises as the rate of inflation and the standard of living went up, then they wouldn’t be in this position in the first place.

I do indeed feel bad about small businesses going under because my family owned a small business for years and it did close its doors after almost twenty years. So I really do feel some sympathy and empathy for the smaller businesses that go under. That being said I feel much more sympathy and empathy for everybody making the current minimum wage ($10 per hour) because I have been there and done that and I am still there and doing that. I would also like to add that if a business can’t afford to pay their staff a living wage (which most, if not all minimum wage’s are not living wages) then they shouldn’t be in business in the first place.

So that is my opinion and this is the end of my diatribe. I fully expect that I will get flak from some Albertans (including some family and friends too) but that my fellow Albertans is just the cost of doing business.

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