Monday, March 03, 2008

B.C.'s Minimum Wage

In the most recent Georgia Straight, there is an article titled, Gov't ignores wage protests. Next to the article, four individuals who work in relevant fields answer the question,
What is an appropriate minimum wage for B.C.?

Emily Ottewell, Cochair, B.C. Federation of Labour young workers' committee
“I know a few people living on $15 or $16 an hour. They can’t afford a mortgage, but they can pay their bills. That’s double-income. I don’t know how anyone on their own can live on that wage. So the minimum should be at least $15 or $16 an hour; $10 is not a living wage, but the problem [with organizing] is, you gotta start somewhere.”

John Barker, Union activist,
“It should be at least $23. If one is working for a living, one should be able to afford a decent life. Everybody who works should afford a place to live. Everybody should have the ability to raise a family. I make just over $30 [at the Molson plant on Burrard], and sometimes between the cost of housing and transportation, I still struggle with that.”

Laurie Sing, Immigrant Services Society of B.C.
“Ten dollars for now, with increases for cost of living—although that still isn’t much, given the cost of rent and food. One client worked at three part-time jobs at minimum wage to support his wife and two kids.…When I met him on the bus coming off a night shift, he was so exhausted he could hardly stay awake.”

Olga Ilich, B.C. minister of labour
“What it is right now [$8 an hour, with a $6 ‘training wage’]. I don’t have the luxury of deciding that on my own. I have to abide by government policy. I do believe strongly in our government policies of job creation.…400,000 more people are working in B.C. today than they were six years ago, and there’s less people on welfare.”

I like the minister's answer on its own (ask me about minimum wage and I'll tell you about how many jobs there are), but also in relation to the previous answers which all - gasp - stick to the topic of minimum wage. As well, compare her answer to the following, supplied by the Straight in conjunction with the above article..

What if the minimum wage weren’t arbitrary?

> If the standard were that a person who works full-time should be able to rent a one-bedroom at the average rate—$846—at a third of his or her income, the minimum wage would be $14.42 per hour.
> To afford a four-year applied-sciences degree’s tuition at UBC, plus $100 a week for living costs (living-at-home rent-free model, not including books or other education costs), while working four years at 20 hours per week, the minimum wage should be $9.91 per hour.
> For a full-time working couple to afford to buy Vancouver’s cheapest two-bedroom condo (25-year mortgage), the minimum wage should be $11.58 per hour.
> For a single parent to rent the average two-bedroom apartment in Metro Vancouver—$1,084—at one-third of gross income, the minimum wage should be $18.48 per hour.
Sources: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation; ; UBC; and Vancity’s mortgage calculator

Government: out of touch much?

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