First of all let me make it very clear that I believe there are many jobs that should be minimum wage. Work skills and experience need to be learned and until they are, it does not represent more than minimum wage.
I am aware that raises to minimum wage put added pressure on small business which in turn may affect customers and community. It is not just the individual that is affected, it affects the wages of those in higher positions as well.
I am also very aware that wages are only part of the compensation package and the employees may be receiving benefits, have flexible hours, scholarships, employee discounts, ongoing skills training, etc.
The following are the challenges:
- Although we appear to be prospering on Vancouver Island, we are creating more minimum wage jobs than living wage jobs.
- A large percentage of minimum wage jobs are part-time with no benefits.
- We are attracting people from right across Canada for life style reasons (who can blame them!)
- Our housing and necessities come at a premium price. The island is not a cheap place to live.
- Minimum wage based on a 40 hour work week is $1777 gross per month less taxes and medical.
- Average rent in Nanaimo is $750, in Parksville around $900.
- Majority at minimum wage do not own cars for financial reasons and rely on public transportation.
- Public transportation is not a viable option in many areas where the minimum wage jobs are located.
My major concerns are as follows:
The ones best suited for minimum wage jobs are those still living at home with their parents. Once we employ all of these in a community where will the businesses find employees? The Comox Valley experienced this during their boom and ran out of applicants. No matter where they come from, they will be facing the same 8 challenges.
These workers, in many cases, require more social supports, supports that all of us pay for, directly or indirectly. There is a societal cost to minimum wage.
The concern that should get everyone’s attention is that minimum wage earners do not have discretionary money. If your product or service is not a necessity, they will not be your customer!
What can we do to create more living-wage jobs? Where and how can we create a balance?
Whether you agree or disagree, I look forward to comments and ideas.