Calgary Herald

Businesses should pay decent wages


Re: “Meddling with wages,” Editorial, April 22.

While minimum wage jobs may not have been intended to support families, the reality is that they do.

Over three-quarters of poor Alberta children live in working families. Working people are the largest group of Calgary Food Bank users. Nationally, the majority of minimum wage workers are 25 and older and not in school.

Arguments that raising the minimum wage harms business and reduces jobs are false. Recent increases in the U.S. saw little job loss. Businesses, in fact, do better when they invest in their workers.

If Alberta’s minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would be around $15 today.

While education and training programs may reduce poverty, demands for austerity would cut exactly those programs. In abdicating responsibi­lity to pay decent wages, business uploads the cost of low wages to government. Poverty costs the Alberta government $7-$9 billion annually.

A business model based on poverty wages is untenable. Decent wages are the cost of doing business.

Ensuring a decent income is a shared responsibi­lity. Individual­s are doing their part by working. Business must do its part by paying people appropriat­ely, not relying on government and taxpayers to pick up the tab. Derek Cook, Calgary Derek Cook is director of the Canadian Poverty Institute at Ambrose University.

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