The minimum wage should be a living wage

The minimum wage should be a living wage The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition wishes to state its support for the current movement across Canada and the United States for an increase to the hourly minimum wage rate. We recognize that current rates are inade

The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition wishes to state its support for the current movement across Canada and the United States for an increase to the hourly minimum wage rate. We recognize that current rates are inadequate and do not come close to a living wage.

According to Living Wage Canada, a living wage is calculated as the hourly rate at which a household can meet its basic needs, once government transfers have been added to the family’s income and deductions have been subtracted. The living wage gets families out of severe financial stress by lifting them out of poverty and providing a basic level of economic security.

In the Yukon, the minimum wage sits at $10.54, behind Nunavut and soon Ontario, whose rates sit at $11. The lowest rate is found in Alberta at $9.75. It is to be noted that the Yukon is one of only two jurisdictions (the other being Nova Scotia) which provide annual increases to its minimum wage tied to the Consumer Price Index.

It is clear, however, that because these rates have not been adjusted until just recently, they have not kept up with inflation. Anti-poverty advocates, including the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, consistently propose that the rates across Canada should be raised, and raised to a level that will allow working people to live with a basic level of economic security.

Living in poverty does not just have a negative impact on those who are directly affected, there is also a huge cost to society when inequality exists. We are all affected.

To quote a recent opinion piece published in the Globe and Mail by Dr. Gary Bloch of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto:

“a 2008 study by the Ontario Association of Food Banks estimated poverty adds over $7 billion to Canadian health-care costs every year. The overall cost of poverty in Canada, to the public and private spheres, is estimated at up to $85 billion per year. Analysts have demonstrated that programs to alleviate poverty can pay for themselves through, for example, increased tax revenues, reduced health costs, lower crime and increased productivity.”

We at the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition could not agree more.

Jean-Francois DesLauriers

Member, Yukon

Anti-Poverty Coalition

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