As of April 15, 2009 British Columbia will have the lowest minimum wage in Canada and BC premier, Gordon Campbell, has no plans to increase it from the current rate of $8 per hour.
Over the past year governments across Canada have been adjusting the minimum wage to more humane levels. Yesterday Ontario increased the minimum wage to $9.75 an hour.
But don’t expect the trend to spread westward.
“The 25-30 per cent increase in your wage package versus keeping your business successful, they will be forced to lay people off. That’s all the evidence we have,” said Gordon Campbell, as quoted in yesterday’s edition of 24 Hours.
This has long been the argument for keeping minimum wage rates at extremely low levels. Opponents of an increase fear that it will hurt business.
I believe that underpaying workers is an act of theft.
If for example a hamburger joint wants to stay in business the owners have to buy hamburger meat. If the price of the meat goes up they have to find a way to pay it, find a cheaper supplier or close shop. If they decided to go to the warehouse to purchase three quarters of the meat and steal the rest they’d likely be arrested and charged with theft under our laws.
I don’t see how it’s any different for labour.
If the current minimum wage laws are keeping some of these businesses afloat then they are profiting from theft.
I’ve worked several minimum wage jobs and I never worked harder in my life. A lot of those retail, food-service, cleaning and labour jobs that pay minimum wage are very demanding and thankless but this province couldn’t survive without these workers.
What do you think would happen if all the underpaid workers in British Columbia went on strike for one day?