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LOCAL, B.C., and CANADA
Wage hike needed
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - Published:
February 03, 2009
I don’t understand how the government believes that people can live
let alone survive off of the minimum wage these days. With the cost
of gas, food and living expenses going up on a regular basis, there
are more and more people getting put out on to the streets.
Cities always complain about the problems the homeless cause, but
what they don’t realize is that lots of it could be prevented by the
increase in wages.
The government expects students to work and be able to pay for
school, shelter and food.
Most students have a hard enough time juggling work and school; they
don’t have time to worry about other expenses.
People working at minimum wage make approximately $16,640 a year
before taxes, which hardly covers the cost of renting a one-bedroom
I strongly advise that the government put some thought into
increasing minimum wage, it is very much needed.
Making ends meet getting more difficult
By Jenn Marshall - Nanaimo News Bulletin - May 15,
Renee Tisdall used to make a decent living as a grocery clerk.
After she quit to raise her children, she found going back to work a
little over five years ago was a different story.
“I’m at $12.15 an hour now and you can’t really make any more than
that,” said Tisdall, adding she was making $17.35 an hour as a
grocery clerk at Safeway in 1989.
Save-On-Foods, where she now works, created a two-tier pay grid in
1997, under which employees already working there make almost double
that of workers in the new pay scale.
“The gap is just huge,” Tisdall said. “I’m one of the lucky ones.
I’m divorced and I get spousal support. I know a woman who works in
our store who has to line up at the Salvation Army at Christmas time
to get a turkey.”
Tisdall said many employees work two or three jobs to make ends
“They’re tired, they get sick, they can’t miss work so they come in
sick,” she said. “The really well-paying jobs are disappearing, but
somebody has to do these jobs and they deserve a living wage.”
Despite the financial support Tisdall has been able to secure, her
spending has changed. She can’t afford holidays, she drives less and
shops in bulk.
The latest census 2006 information released by Statistics Canada on
income and earnings shows the rich are getting richer, the poor are
getting poorer and the middle class is disappearing.
The figures show a 7.5-per cent drop in the median earnings of
Nanaimo workers between 2000 and 2005.
British Columbians experienced a median income drop of 3.4 per cent
during that time, while the median earnings of Canadians as a whole
grew 2.4 per cent.
“I think this reflects a shift from manufacturing and resource
sector jobs to service sector jobs,” said Gord Holyer, a Malaspina
University-College economics instructor.
“I think it’s saying we’re in for rough times.”
Earnings are the wages and salaries individuals receive through
work. Income is everything an individual brings in, including income
assistance and tax transfers. The median income is the salary in the
middle – exactly half of residents make more and half make less.
Holyer said one reason the median income might be down in Nanaimo is
because more people are working at low-wage, entry level jobs rather
than on social assistance.
“Those additional employees bring the median income down, but it
could mean those people are actually better off,” he said.
Government tax breaks have similarly increased the spending power of
“Those at the top and those at the bottom have improved whereas
those in the middle have slipped backwards,” said Holyer.
He said the cost of living has become less affordable for middle
income earners, who are used to luxuries they associate with the
Island lifestyle such as owning their own cars and houses.
“We have gone from a saving nation to a spending nation,” said
Holyer. “We used to save for a rainy day and now it’s like every day
“People talk about it as the disappearance of the middle class.”
Joey Moore, a Malaspina University-College sociology instructor,
said Nanaimo is an exaggerated example of the polarization happening
in the B.C. workforce.
Forestry and resource jobs are being replaced with lower-paying jobs
in the retail and service industry.
With the recent fall of Madill Equipment Canada and the Harmac pulp
mill, taking with them some 700 well-paid jobs, Nanaimo wages could
continue to drop in terms of spending power.
“Unlike 15 years ago 20 years ago, we’ve got a larger number of
people on part-time, low-wage jobs,” he said. “These trends are
pushed by employers looking to reduce costs.”
Moore said the recent job cuts at Malaspina also illustrate the
erosion of well-paying, public sector jobs.
John Horn, City of Nanaimo social planner, said historically,
Nanaimo incomes have been lower than the provincial average, but the
recent marked decline shows a dramatic shift in the city’s economy
from resource-based to lower-paying jobs in tourism and retail.
“The more service jobs we create, the less we’re able to keep up
with inflation,” he said.
reporter "at" nanaimobulletin.com
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