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Surrey, Langley, White Rock chapter calls for a higher minimum wage

Peter ThomsonThe Council of Canadians Surrey, Langley, White Rock chapter supports a higher minimum wage for working people.

In a letter to the editor of the Vancouver Sun, chapter activist Peter Thomson writes, “We of the Surrey, Langley, White Rock Chapter of the Council of Canadians endorse both the federal NDP proposal for a $15 federal minimum wage and the B.C. Federation of Labour’s campaign for the same $15 dollar wage floor in B.C.” The current minimum wage in British Columbia is $10.25 per hour.

The chapter highlights, “We note that the city of Seattle and nations of New Zealand and Australia have similar or higher minimums than are being proposed here and in those jurisdictions those higher minimums enjoy widespread support.” In June 2014, Seattle city council voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, in New Zealand it’s $14.25 an hour, and in Australia the federal minimum wage is now $16.87.

And they conclude, “How can we Canadians and we British Columbians continue to condone business plans that depend on paying starvation wages?” In November 2013, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives noted that the minimum wage in Ontario – it was $10.25 per hour then, it was increased to $11.00 this past June – was below the poverty line for full-time workers and short of living-wage calculations across the province (ranging from $18.69 in Halton to $14.95 in Hamilton). At that time, they recommended a minimum wage of $14.50 be implemented by 2016.

In an October 2014 study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, authors Jim Stanford and Jordan Brennan countered the assertion that a higher minimum wage would result in higher unemployment levels. They write, “Claims that higher minimum wages will inevitably cause measurable negative consequences (especially for young workers and those in low-wage industries) are not consistent with empirical evidence from the Canadian provinces. Minimum wage regulations do not have important consequences on employment outcomes in either direction. Not surprisingly, employment outcomes depend first and foremost on the overall level of spending and macroeconomic activity.”

The CCPA has also found a higher minimum wage would benefit companies with increased employee retention and the broader economy with more individuals with greater purchasing power.

Further reading
Harper government fails unemployed youth (December 2014 blog)

Photo: Chapter activist Peter Thomson.