Living wage lifts workers from poverty

Poverty is an expensive business and right now poor families and children are paying the costs, and the taxpayers right along with them

Dear Sir:

At its meeting on April 22nd, Terrace city council tabled a recommendation from the city’s social workers that they adopt a living wage policy.

A living wage is not a minimum wage. A minimum wage is simply the amount an employer is legally required to pay. It has no relation to how much an employee needs to live on.

A living wage is the hourly amount a person would have to receive in order to not fall below the poverty line if working full time. The poverty line is the amount of money a person or family have to earn to be able to afford the bare necessities.

In Terrace, that figure is $17.60 an hour or thereabouts. Hard work should lift people, and their children, out of poverty, not keep them in it.

The idea of a living wage assumes that if people are working full time, they should be able to live on their wages.

It is based on an increasing amount of research that shows that people who have to take several jobs to get to the poverty line, have more health issues, use social services more, aren’t able to take advantage of schools and training and can get involved in the criminal justice system more.

All of this creates family pain and costs the community money. Poverty is rarely caused by personal decisions not to work. It is caused by social decisions to create poverty by not paying people enough to live on.

Some businesses say that they can’t afford to pay their employees a living wage. What they are in effect saying is that their employees will subsidize their businesses through low wages and other taxpayers will pick up the social costs of paying for the effects of the resulting poverty.

City council was not asked to require all Terrace businesses to pay a living wage. It was asked to set a good civic example by saying the city would pay their employees a living wage, (which they largely already do), and require city contractors to do the same.

New Westminster, which has already adopted a living wage policy, pays pays for it with an additional tenth of one percent of its municipal budget.

Social workers are presently reviewing the research in order to reply to the issues raised by council.

While council has legitimate questions on the effect of a living wage on city and business costs, members should not be surprised that poverty is an expensive business and right now poor families and children are paying the costs, and the taxpayers right along with them.

Robert Hart,

Terrace, BC

(Rob Hart is president of the BC Association of Social Worker’s Northwest Branch and teaches social policy at UNBC.)

Just Posted

Global climate strike makes its stand in Terrace

Approximately 50 people rallied in front of city hall to bring awareness to climate change

Bear shot by police in Stewart neighbourhood, residents say

Gunshots were heard in the dark, alarming and angering neighbours

Skeena Voices | Walking between two parallel roads

Lynn Parker found knowledge a powerful tool for reconciliation

Terrace Community Forests harvests $750k for City of Terrace

Money was given in recognition of National Forest Week

Coast Mountain College opens new health and wellness centre in Terrace

College’s eventual goal is to open up the gym and programming for public use

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Takaya, B.C.’s infamous lone wolf, seen eating seal and howling away on Discovery Island

Fun facts about Takaya the wolf, like his a 36-hour tour around Chatham, Discovery Islands

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

Oak Bay father’s testimony at murder trial like plot of ‘bad low-budget movie:’ Crown

Crown alleged Andrew Berry’s ‘entire story of Christmas Day is a lie’

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Singh campaigns in Toronto, May in Winnipeg, as Liberal and Tory leaders pause

All parties expected to be back on the campaign trail Sunday

Possible Canadian cases of vaping illnesses being investigated: health officer

‘I think that will be really important to address the overall trend of youth vaping’

Area 51 events mostly peaceful; thousands in Nevada desert

Three more people were arrested Friday on the remote once-secret military base

Most Read