Liewicki Leaks: Fatten the minimum wage chicken

Nathan Liewicki
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Its unfortunate money doesn’t grow on trees.

Nathan Liewicki

Money pays for your basic necessities, as well as an array of other expenses we desire to throw money at — sometimes good and sometimes bad.

However, the aforementioned slogan applies more to certain people in Saskatchewan than it does to others, such as tenured teachers, lawyers, or doctors.

Enter the discussion surrounding the Saskatchewan Government’s recent decision to increase minimum wage in the province from $10 to $10.20 effective Oct. 1.

When examining the two per cent boost to minimum wage, it is just that: a mere two per cent increase.

Calculated based on the percentage changes in the consumer price index and average hourly wage for the previous year, minimum wage is a challenge to predict year in and year out.

That being said, minimum wage across the country is quite low, including in Saskatchewan.

My first job, which I started in 2004, paid me $5.90 an hour. At that time, that was minimum wage in Alberta. The fact that minimum wage in my home province is the lowest in the country is puzzling, especially considering it’s one of the wealthiest provinces.

Knowing that minimum wage in Wild Rose Country is $9.95 is appalling, but I digress. Saskatchewan continues to creep closer and closer to the economic level of their western neighbour and as such should continue to increase minimum wage.

Unfortunately, not everyone is on board with the Saskatchewan Government’s decision to up minimum wage. One of those opposed to the $0.20 increase is the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

According to the CFIB, the hospitality and retail industries stand to be hurt the most by the increase. Instead, the CFIB suggested the province adopt training wage for workers lacking in experience, or experiment with a gratuity wage for workers who collect tips.

Marilyn Braun-Pollon, the prairie vice-president for the CFIB, described the minimum wage increase in a press release as assuming “affordability every year" and noted that it "does not reflect the current market conditions.”

I don’t know the specific details of the province’s market conditions, but I don’t agree with the CFIB’s assessment of the minimum wage situation.

This province has the potential to push minimum wage north of $12. Do I think that will happen? Yes, I do, but not for five or six more years.

We have such an overwhelming number of people whose salaries are six and seven figures, so it only seems fair to share that wealth.

Fattening the minimum wage chicken can only help the little guys and girls of Saskatchewan.

Follow Nathan on Twitter @liewicks.

Organizations: Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Saskatchewan Government

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Alberta, Wild Rose Country

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  • T.A.
    April 04, 2014 - 18:13

    "We have such an overwhelming number of people whose salaries are six and seven figures, so it only seems fair to share that wealth." Steal from the rich and give to the poor? I'm all for providing assistance to those in need but minimum wage earners have every opportunity to earn more on their own. Most employers already pay more than the minimum wage in an effort to retain staff in this economy and those who choose to work for that more than likely have other options.