“The sky is falling” is the battle cry of minimum-wage opponents: predicting layoffs, bankruptcies and major disasters. One group consists mainly of the chamber of commerce and small businesses, some of whom sincerely believe that an increase is detrimental to their livelihood. The other group is major corporations — I just listened to one CEO predicting massive layoffs and bankruptcies, while another is a direct descendant of Tim Horton who owns half a dozen stores in Ontario. She is now at her winter home on the beach in Florida contemplating on how to punish her workers: one idea is to take away their coffee break. The irony is that the original hockey player, Tim Horton, played an important role by opening his stores, which became a big part in establishing what is now part of Canadian culture, the coffee break.
The fact is wages have always increased. Fifty years ago as a union carpenter I earned $2.05 per hour. A shopping cart full of groceries was $10, which amounts to five hours of work. If I worked today I would earn $35 and the same shopping cart would take six hours of work. At minimum wage the cost is 16 hours..
I investigated several places where an increase in wages have made positive differences. Turns out they do not have the legislated minimum wage but no one earns less than $21 Canadian for one hour, if you work for McDonald’s in Copenhagen your wage is $23 per hour, with three weeks paid holiday, so you can actually afford to buy a Big Mac even though it costs 58 cents more than it does here. To put it differently the wage is almost 100 per cent higher than Canada, but the Big Mac is less than 10 per cent more. What happened to the other 90 per cent? That question should be put to the CEO.