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It’s about time minimum wage meets the needs of many Albertans

Posted on June 16, 2015 by Sunny South News

If the provincial NDPs raise minimum wage in Alberta — it would be welcome news for many Albertans trying to live from paycheque to paycheque each and every month. Scraping by on $10.20 an hour for some and if employment is in the hospitality industry as a server, on $9.20 an hour plus tips and well wishes — it is indeed stressful trying to pay rent, utilities, buy food and the other basic necessities of life in a supposed well-to-do province.
By 2018, the NDPs would like to have the hourly minimum wage in Alberta at $15, with increases in wage leading up to the date. Which is great news for employees.
According to news reports, some restaurant and bar industry insiders believe they should be able to pay a lower rate to servers who are tipped and young people just starting out in a job.
Alberta’s minimum wage is already among the lowest in Canada — not something Albertans should be proud of. Sure, many businesses and organizations pay employees well over the provincially set minimum wage but others are simply cheap and are disconnected from the real world with how much things cost to live and work in Alberta.
According to the Retail Council of Canada, from 2012 Statistics Canada information, $11 is the hourly wage in Nunavut and Ontario. In the Yukon, minimum wage is $10.86. But, the minimum wage is only $10 in the Northwest Territories. Minimum wage on the East Coast is slightly higher than Alberta but Saskatchewan shares our $10.20 minimum hourly wage.
Yes, some businesses will have to adapt to said minimum wage hike. Yes, some businesses will have to re-work budgets and re-evaluate staffing. And, yes, some businesses need to raise wages because of the amount of work employees are already expected to do for the small amount of wage per hour.
One article written in a southern Alberta newspaper mentioned a minimum wage hike will perhaps boost employee moral. The writer noted upon walking into a big box store or convenience store or any other service/retail outlet — employees, with a raise in minimum wage, would no doubt have smiles on their faces and might be a bit happier to serve you, as a customer. That’s good news for everyone. Of course, some business owners, may sport a frown.
For those who have worked in the retail/service industry as a gas jockey, video rental technician, server or had an early or continuing career in fast food or as a sales clerk (in the words of Dante Hicks, “I’m not even supposed to be here today.”) — working at what seems to be a dead-end job for very little money is a kick in the teeth. Yes, it is a job. Jobs are getting harder to come by these days. But, an employee doesn’t need to work for the bare minimum, which is the case in many industries throughout the province.
Grunt work, is what many would call a “McJob.” (Sorry, beloved Golden Arches we grew up on.) It barely pays the bills and leaves the employee fearful of what lies in store in the future, as he/she tries to get ahead on bills and the like. Many employees, barely living off minimum wage, must have two jobs in order to have a place to lay their tired head at night. It is time Alberta raises the minimum wage. It is time provinces from coast-to-coast start realizing that it ain’t as cheap as it used to be to live.
Sadly, when one goes into the grocery store and a box of KD sells for over $2 in most places or a bottle of Coke costs more than $2 — life is no longer like a box of chocolates, or maybe it is, just the cheap dollar store kind.
Albertans should give credit to the provincial NDPs for realizing life for many Albertans is unbearable at $10.20 an hour. Many hard working employees are part-time and don’t even get benefits, so a trip to the dentist or a trip to the grocery store is a tedious task.
Yes, a heartfelt boo hoo hoo to all the businesses who will have to adapt. Yes, some businesses may indeed have to lay off employees or let go Joe or Sally to make ends meet business-wise. This, of course, is a reality. But, in the long run, business will be as per usual.
Look at it this way — when a business makes money hand-over-fist — its employees usually don’t see an extra dime. So, when a business has to put out a few more dollars in wages, look it as payback and restitution for a job well done over the years — a bonus.
When an employee doesn’t have to worry about losing money when going to work — that is a step in the right direction — as happy employees are good employees and the trickle down effect is ten-fold.
A minimum wage increase to $15 by 2018 is like a Christmas gift that keeps on giving, if you believe in that sort of thing. It gives an employee a sense of worth, as opposed to just over $10 an hour. Being worth $15 an hour is a lot better than only being worth $10.20 an hour. Being a slave to the grind is something all of us have sadly grown accustomed to. Now, perhaps, many Albertans can breathe a somewhat sigh of relief when payday comes. Bills may get caught up on, some Albertans may be able to buy the brand name pasta sauce rather than the generic brand and fruit and vegetables may grace more dinner tables on the weekend, once again.
Of course, some businesses will no doubt raise the cost of things, to recoup wage increases. If the NDP thinks all businesses big and small will be fair and monitor themselves, think again. Perhaps, the government should also put a cap on, percentage-wise, how much a business can raise prices o n their wares, wonders and services rendered — or Albertans will be reaching into their pockets even deeper to help foot the bill of a minimum wage hike and it will cost more than they bargained for.
Will a minimum wage increase cost taxpayers more money at the till? Only time will tell. In the meantime, it’s encouraging to know minimum wage is on the provincial government’s radar.

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