2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

We need a higher minimum wage

During the election, the Alberta New Democratic Party (NDP) promised to raise the provincial minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018.

The NDP took control of the legislature from the Tories on May 5, and new Premier Rachel Notley says the party plans to follow through with its campaign promise. Although the proposed change was immediately met with fear-mongering, a $15 an hour minimum wage will be good for the province.

Living in Calgary isn’t cheap. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the living wage — the minimum hourly wage needed to raise a family here — is $17 an hour. The current minimum wage of $10.20 an hour isn’t high enough for workers to stay above the poverty line.

Low wages traps workers in a cycle of poverty that taxpayers end up paying for. If businesses can’t afford to pay their employees a living wage, they don’t meet the requirements of a functioning business. We shouldn’t have to subsidize businesses too cheap to pay their workers.

Critics claim increasing the minimum wage would be detrimental to the economy, hurting companies that can’t afford to increase their workers’ wages. But the proposed incremental increase will ultimately have a positive effect on businesses. Corporations will be able to build the projected increase in minimum wage into their operating costs over the years. The incremental increase gives companies time to adjust to the change.

Businesses won’t lay off as many workers as critics think. The shift-based service industries this minimum wage increase will reportedly affect most likely already employ the minimum amount of workers they need to keep their business running.

Companies don’t give employees hours out of the kindness of their hearts. They give workers the hours needed to run their business. The amount of hours a company will need to ensure their business can function won’t change if the minimum wage rises. Businesses may make less profit, but that’s not the same as job loss.

We need to consider what the point of our economy is. Businesses aren’t helpful solely because they make money. They supply goods and services we can purchase and give workers a living wage that can be used to purchase those same goods and services. When workers are paid more, they’ll have more disposable income to put back into businesses. Everybody wins.

Raising the minimum wage is a no-brainer. If Notley’s NDP can ignore the naysayers and pull it off, the standard of living will increase for all Albertans.

Jason Herring, Gauntlet Editorial Board

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