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EDITORIAL – Now is not the time to call for a freeze on the minimum wage

(Image: Occupy.com)

An  editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES are never popular with businesses. They insist that higher minimum wages make it tougher for them to make a profit and that wage increases end up being passed on to consumers.

Either that, they say, or they have to cut staff.

So with another hike in B.C.’s minimum wage scheduled for June 1, the business community is again sounding this all-too-familiar alarm. The raise would put the minimum wage at $14.60 per hour, up from $13.85.

Most other provinces are also scheduled for minimum-wage increases this year so a lot of business groups across the country are joining a call to postpone them.

The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce is among those wanting a delay. The rationale is that the raise will make it tougher for businesses to get back on their feet as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other B.C. chambers are taking the same tack. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business also wants minimum wage increases delayed “until the economy recovers.”

Worries about the impact of the pandemic are understandable but now is not the time to renew the battle against the minimum wage.

Minimum-wage earners are among the hardest hit by the economic consequences of COVID-19 as jobs disappear. Now, more than ever, they need a boost.

Arguments against a more livable minimum wage are suspect, anyway. Negative expected consequences never seem to materialize.

Experience shows that higher minimum wages reduce staff turnover, and loyal employees will be of high value when the economy gets rolling again.

At a time when some employers are temporarily bumping up hourly wages for those still fortunate enough to be working, calling for a freeze on minimum wage hikes is out of place.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (7857 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on EDITORIAL – Now is not the time to call for a freeze on the minimum wage

  1. Given the graphic on ‘stereotype’ and ‘reality’, I would agree with your summation of not postponing the minimum wage increase. Those numbers clearly show its not just about supporting after school kids at McDonalds type workers, but the majority is about adults supporting themselves and families on low wages in many employment sectors, at a moment when these workers desperately need the cash.
    This postponement push is all about companies using the present crisis to bolster their political anti-min wage increase argument, and add in the ‘whoa is us’ business survival mantra. The long game of maintaining the untrue ‘higher wages mean layoffs’ rhetoric is the real goal here, even if we all know that this argument is simply not true.
    There is the angle of a wage increase passing increased costs onto consumers, at a time when sales as a whole have crashed, which could in a few instances mean some consumer decisions result in not making the purchase, but in the end an extra $0.25 added onto the cost of a Big Mac … aint gonna stop someone sitting in a drive thru lineup in June compared to today.
    Lets support workers and support the BC governments
    existing minimum wage increase schedule, exactly as it is.

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