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 firstname.lastname@example.org.