Minimum wage reaction appalling

I am always appalled to hear negative business reaction to proposals to increases the BC minimum wage.

I am always appalled to hear negative business reaction to proposals to increases the BC minimum wage.

I was equally amazed at the vituperative nature of the dissension when it finally happened for the first time in a decade.

At $8 an hour, BC has had the lowest minimum wage in Canada for years – to go along with one of the highest costs of living in the country.

Despite repeated pleas, former premier Gordon Campbell doggedly denied any change – indeed, he made things worse by introducing an opportunity for employers to pay a $6 an hour “training wage”.

Now, newly appointed premier Christy Clark, in one of her first actions, has taken the bull by the horns and announced a raise in the minimum wage in three steps to $10.25 by  May, 2012.

No doubt big-time minimum wage employers felt the change was even more advantageous than they ever imagined it would be when BC finally bit the bullet.

After all, Ontario is already at $10.25 and that seems likely to increase by the time minimum wage earners in B.C. feel any  fattening in their pay envelopes.

I didn’t  find the announcement excessively generous, and I do not subscribe to the doom-and-gloom forecasts by “leaders in the business world” that the move will hurt the people it is designed to help.

Already, in weeks, the price of a single litre of gasoline has increased by about half of the value of the first hourly instalment of the increase, 75 cents an hour.

And that’s still not due to happen for another two months. Not to mention the HST.

Each time I think of BC politicians voting en masse to increase their own remuneration and see the 2007 numbers like $98,000 as a base salary for backbenchers, plus all kinds of additional non-taxable expenses, I find this foot-dragging even more grating.

The premier’s wage rose 54 per cent to $186,200, presumably what Christy Clark earns. We were expected to recognize that the 29 per cent increase in 2007 reflected that fact that MLA salaries have not changed for 10 years.

Not to mention the need to attract the “best people” as MLAs. Good luck with that!

The inaction for 10 years on minimum wages remains a shameful but deliberate oversight for the provincial Liberals.

Long term caucus and backbench consensus support for this policy was truly a disgrace. Coupled with significant increases in the costs of post-secondary education, the government over the past decade contributed in a heartless manner to prevent many low-income families in the province accessing a better education for far too many young people.

Meanwhile, it is well known that the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has been a sharp thorn in the side of various governments in recent years.

One of activities is the operation of a National Debt Clock. The Federation has been touring the National Debt Clock around the country for some time, to help promote awareness of each individual Canadian’s sky-rocketing share of the National Debt.

The clock whizzes along at a great rate – when I looked at it last, as I write, the total was rapidly approaching $564 billion, more than $16,500 per Canadian man, woman and child.

So, in spite of a parliamentary refusal of permission, the Clock showed up on the Hill last week just as it hit a new high – on Friday, March 18 it topped $562.9 billion, effectively wiping out all national debt repayments since 1997.

Heritage Canada’s committee on Parliament Hill use, an all party group, had nixed the Fed’s request to take the clock on to Parliament Hill.

They did it anyway. in time to allow visitors to see the historic number tick

into place.

Heritage Canada’s response: “The Interdepartmental Committee on the Use of Parliament Hill is responsible for the preservation of the beauty, dignity and national character of Parliament Hill, which is a National Historic Site.

“Individuals and groups are welcome to use Parliament Hill to make their views known. However, this must be done within the framework of the rules established not only to preserve and protect this national institution, but also to protect the people who visit and use the site.

“The Committee has reviewed your request for permission to bring a large clock (considered a prop), as well as a generator, onto the Hill. Unfortunately, neither of these items are permitted on the Hill precinct. As such, your request has not been approved.”

Hogwash!

We can read into the letter that politicians believe it’s not in the best interests of Canadians to know, at the source of the spending, how much money our children will owe in their future.

 

 

 

ahewitson@telus.net

 

 

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