Your report on the minimum wage was very accurate.
What was said by some of the people interviewed was not true. That is not your fault.
When I am elected an MLA, I will introduce a private member bill to raise the Yukon minimum wage to $10 per hour.
I will explain myself.
Lots of people will be screaming about potential losses of jobs. You will notice the loudest voices are those of the oil companies, the fast-food restaurants and the coffee chains.
For those of you who don’t know how the system works, the big corporations engage franchises and agents.
Those people assume all the risks and pay major percentages of their takes for rent, advertising promotions and the use of the company trademark.
The company allows the agent or franchise a meager living and enough to pay minimum wage. If the dealer makes too much, his or her contract is rewritten.
If minimum wage goes up, the corporation has to ante up. An increase in minimum wage doesn’t hurt the dealer, but corporations don’t like paying the extra.
Do you honestly believe a franchise would stay open if the company was making a $2.80 per hour profit?
Locations close, not because the company is losing money but because it isn’t making enough. Minimum wage doesn’t figure into it.
Second, the companies, small independents who can least afford to pay higher wages, are already doing so.
So much for job losses. My employer pays me well.
“If minimum-wage increases, higher wage earners will want more.”
Why? Are they so much better than us that they don’t want to see us be able to afford to live?
That is a combination of snobbery and covetousness.
“What about the ripple effect?”
With more money to spend, low-wage earners will spend more, thereby putting more, not less, money into the community, including spending on fast food, coffee and gasoline.
Then there’s welfare. I have had a number of people over the years tell me they couldn’t afford to work and lose their social assistance benefits.
There is some merit to this. On social assistance your basic needs are provided for. On minimum wage, a toothache, expensive prescriptions or glasses could be unaffordable.
At $10 per hour an emergency would at least be survivable.
With fewer people on social assistance, theoretically our taxes would drop, including the big companies’.
The Bible says two things regarding employment: The labourer is worthy of his hire. Do your work as unto the Lord.
If we followed these guidelines, there would be no labour unrest and no goldbricking.
The Yukon would become the most prosperous jurisdiction in Canada.
Don’t mine paradise
The winter road to Snake River was made by Proctor Construction in the winter of 1963. They also had an airstrip big enough for a DC3 to land on.
I worked that winter for United Keno Hill Mines, Elsa. I was a drift miner there. The road started from Hansen Lake between Elsa and Keno City. I watched the equipment go by.
At the end of May, my friend Aaro Aho came to see me in Elsa and said, “Esa, they need a good driller and blasting man in Iron Creek Camp. Why don’t you take the job?”
He gave me the phone number.
After working underground for so long, I welcomed the idea of fresh air and sun. I got the job.
In early June I flew to Iron Creek Camp.
Snake River work was already going full speed. Heavy equipment was working day and night on the airstrip.
During my first two weeks, I did blasting and drilling on the strip. They had an Atlas Capco gas drill. These were pretty good, but clumsy and heavy.
The rest of the summer, I was blasting helicopter landings and diamond drill platforms all over the mountains. I never forgot how beautiful the country was: big horn sheep, moose, caribou, bear, fish.
Bears were big trouble sometimes. When we were at tent camps in the mountains, the company gave us a .303 army rifle and ammunition for protection.
To my knowledge seven grizzly bears were shot that summer. I shot one of them; it kept coming to our tent. We did have our food supply there.
I tried to scare him with dynamite, but he kept coming back.
When I shot him, he was less than six metres from me.
There were 16 geology students from Calgary, Alberta, and they all said the same thing: “What a wonderful country.”
Well-known geologist Aho was there many times. He was cofounder of Faro mines. His name is on the Main Street monument.
He was a manager of Peso Silver. I worked for him at Shanghai Mine.
Later, Aho had an office in Vancouver. He got killed in a mining accident in the late ‘60s on Vancouver Island.
In mid-September, my work was finished. There was no more blasting.
DC3 airplanes were already landing on our airstrip, so I flew to Whitehorse with a big paycheque in my pocket. We had worked all summer, 12 hours a day, seven days a week, $1.85 an hour with no overtime pay.
In Whitehorse, lots were selling in Riverdale for $250 to $350 each. The superintendent told me, “Esa you have lots of money now, why don’t you buy a lot or two in Riverdale?”
“I’ll think about it,” I said and I went to the cocktail lounge of the Whitehorse Inn Hotel to think it over. There, I met two Keno Hill miners — always broke, of course. Next thing, there were a couple of ladies at the table. They all thought it was a very good idea to buy lots in Riverdale, but no real rush for that. Next week!
Lots of fun, at first. Well, I never did buy any lots in Riverdale. Maybe it was a good thing. It is too crowded for my taste.
Today, I’m looking back at my mining days… years. I worked in 18 underground mines in Canada, two in Alaska (Red Devil and Kendrick Bay), and two open-pit mines, in Cassiar, BC, and Faro.
Sadly I have to say that every single mine I worked, we left nothing but terrible pollution and mess behind us. You can never go pick berries anywhere near those mines, or fish the nearby lakes or creeks.
They are ruined forever.
I suggest that our hotheaded mining man John Witham take a year’s trip to China. They need men like him over there. There is a need for miners. More than 6,000 miners get killed over there every year.
After one year, if he survives, his writings will have a different tune.
We need more men like Juri Peepre and Jim Pojar and my favourite writer Gregory Heming.
I will finish this with A. Aho’s words when we were in the Snake Mountains.
He said, “Esa, there is lots of low-grade ore over here, but in the process of trying to mine here, they would ruin this beautiful country forever, just because of 10 years mining.
“I really hope they don’t ever think about mining this paradise!”
And I agree with him, 100 per cent.