Real problem is minimum wage
Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 06:00 am
I have read with interest the articles and letters in the Gazette, discussing the plight of temporary foreign workers, particularly as it effects this community. I deeply sympathize with those from Third World countries but what we are doing is creating a third world here!
The elephant in the room — that no-one seems to be acknowledging is minimum wage! By enabling employers to bring in temporary foreign workers and legally pay them as little as possible reinforces the plight of the working poor! We are all aware that there are people living in poverty; how often are we told about poor children and that there is a gap growing between the rich and the poor.
I know that local employers are telling us the change to the temporary foreign worker program is going to affect their bottom line — but some of these employers have more than one place of business. To do this they must have amassed a lot of capital. I am sure they live in lovely homes and do not have to worry when they are sick. Yes I understand that these are the expectations from a market economy, however in a caring society which Canada purports to be, how can we accept that there will always be the working poor!
We have a duty as a society to provide a better standard of living. I am convinced that if we significantly raise minimum wage from $10 an hour, provide benefits and pensions, we might not have such a shortage of local workers. Our local support businesses would survive, there would be still be a thriving economy. Yes it might cut into the bottom line for employers, but in the long run the positive impacts of doing this could be enormous. Telling us that seniors and youth are the people who might be interested in these jobs only reinforces the fact that the employers know that these jobs cannot support an acceptable existence. People who currently do these minimum wage jobs might even be able to live in St Albert.
When we first came to this country over 30 years ago, with the promise of work for my late husband — we soon found ourselves in the poverty trap when the oil industry went into a slump. I worked for minimum wage in this city and fought for benefits. We lost our home and struggled for many years. I know that living on minimum wage is barely existing! Let us carefully examine the implications for our society before we decide to campaign and lower our expectations for the quality of life for everyone.
Elizabeth Allchin, St. Albert