Vancouver Sun

Minimum wage debated

Re: Raising minimum wage important step in tackling poverty, Opinion, April 1


The Liberal government’s refusal to raise the minimum wage to $15 is more than a denial of life’s realities and a travesty of justice. It also sends a demeaning signal to workers that they do not merit the self-respect and sense of security which comes from earning a living wage; they must continue their struggle on a paltry $10.45 an hour while costs of food, housing, hydro, daycare and other necessitie­s go up.

When a government puts economic developmen­t, mega projects and internatio­nal reputation at the top of its agenda while relegating human needs, social programs and empathy to the bottom of its priority list, we are all the poorer for it. Countries that function best are those which do not create sharp societal divides between an underclass and corporate elite. Their governing philosophy is that every citizen has the right to have his basic needs — food, housing, daycare, medical, handicappe­d aids — met. Those benefits should not be “privileges” to be bestowed at the whim of government. Wellner Gagnier, Delta

Irene Lanzinger, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, writes that Canada’s lowest minimum wage is right here in B.C.— $10.45 an hour. That’s a 1.95 per cent increase from the May 1, 2012 amount of $10.25.

In 2007, the B.C. Liberals voted themselves a 29 per cent pay increase, with the premier going for 54 per cent. Reminds me of what George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Heinz Senger, Surrey

Many are calling for a $15 minimum wage. If we want to lift workers out of poverty that way, then the increase in pay should come from government subsidy, and not from employers.

Just legislatin­g a higher minimum wage is insane, because it dooms the most vulnerable and handicappe­d workers to permanent unemployme­nt and a life on social assistance.

Recently, Nova Scotia offered to pay half the wages of certain new hires. It can be done.

B.C. should pay for MSP out of income taxes, and shift the MSP clerks to administer­ing wage subsidies for the poor. Any such program will distort the economy, but it’s worth it to alleviate the problems that come from poverty. Maxwell Anderson, Vancouver

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