TEENAGE ENTRY LEVEL WAGE BELOW MINIMUM WAGE EQUALS BLATANT DISCRIMINATION AND SOCIAL JUSTICE FAILURE
(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)
In preparation for the 2019 provincial election certain provincial Conservative candidates once again are proposing economic changes that target the most vulnerable – teenage entry level wage below minimum wage and flat taxes (tax-system).
Alberta Minimum Wage Profile (April 2017 – March, 2018) ‘Alberta Analysis (wage-profile)- At 28.8%, the 15 to 19 year old group remained the largest group of minimum wage earners in Alberta, and the 20 to 24 year old group was the second largest at 20.5%. Over one quarter or 28.3% of Alberta minimum wage earners were students’.
- Some teens work to help support their families.
- Some teens have already left home and are trying to establish themselves as hard working independent, self sufficient and responsible individuals.
- Some teens are emancipated minors who leave their families because of abuse and untenable living conditions at home.
- Some unattached (and married) individuals are living at home because they can’t afford Alberta housing prices. From the report: During the current reference period, 39.5% of minimum wage earners were living with their parents.’
- Households with children receive Canada Child Benefits, unattached individuals do not.
- It costs more for unattached individuals (independent teens) to live than married without children (Market Basket Measure). If one person (unattached) household has a value of 1.0, the value for a two person (married) household is 1.4, not 2.0.
- Discrimination based on age is a violation of human rights.
Conservatives have referred to the Australian model for teenage entry level wages. Australia Minimum Wage Reduction for Teens in 2018 (based on $18.93 minimum wage):
- <16 years 36.8% or $6.97
- 16 years 47.3% or $8.95
- 17 years 57.8% or $10.94
- 18 years 68.3% or $12.93
- 19 years 82.5% or $15.61
- 20 years 97.7% or $18.49
Living wage Calgary is over $18 ($36,000/yr.) and very few living wages in Canada are below $15.00. Alberta minimum wage of $15 ($30,000/yr.) is below the living wage, and now Conservatives want to decrease the minimum wage, for example if based on Australian model, an 18 year old to approx. 70% or $10.50/hr. ($21,000/yr.)?
It is difficult to draw statistics on specific youth ages, but from several sources and from Statistics Canada Census Profile 2016, statistics show approximate Alberta population age 15 – 19 to be 240,035, age 20 to 24 to be 261,830. Approximately 13% to 15% of total Alberta employees are from age group 15 to 24. Do Conservatives really want to target the minority group of 13 to 15%?
In 2011 (profile-youth) the Services-Producing sector in Alberta comprised 77.9% of all youth employment. In 2011, Alberta youth accounted for 37.7% of those employed in the Accommodation and Food Services industry. The average hourly wage paid to youth was $9.57 less than the average hourly wage paid to all Albertans. Approximately 63% age 15 – 24 are full time employees. In 2011 average hourly wage for all Albertans was $25.47 and for age 15-24 $15.90.
Premise that age 21 before 100% wage takes effect or five years to become skilled at a job is just plain discriminatory, a violation of human rights and a social justice failure. At 18 years of age, these persons are adults, they can vote, and many have left home to work and become independent persons. Their parents no longer receive Canada Child Benefits.
Why would parents support a policy that is discriminatory?
If problems lie with small business then solve the small business problem instead of targeting vulnerable minorities to bear the brunt of failures of business. Apparently politicians, businesses can’t see that they will pay one way or another-more welfare and food banks at one end and ability to live decent respectful lives at the other.
Jason Kenney needs to reveal his plan for teen minimum wage reduction in its entirety so voters can make informed choices on their candidates.
What is needed in this democratic country are centre left and right parties for balance and to challenge each other so right and fair decisions are made. What is not needed are far right Conservatives (Jason Kenney – teen minimum wage reduction and flat taxes, Doug Ford who broke his promise by cancelling Ontario Liberal’s basic income pilot project, and Trump’s economic policies making the rich even richer).
Proper budgeting implies that if there is a problem with deficits, taxes should not be cut without reducing the “fat” or excesses. Conservatives are also once again proposing bringing back the flat tax without cutting loopholes for the wealthy. Why is it that they always target the vulnerable, cut the revenue side by cutting taxes, but never cut regressive tax expenditures or loopholes for the wealthy?
Parkland Institute (things_to_know_about_a_15_minimum_wage_in_alberta) makes the following points:
Consumer spending power has more impact on employment than raising the minimum wage.
Raising the minimum wage by meaningful amounts helps put a dent in increasing income inequality.
Income inequality increases health care costs and slows economic growth.
(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles. It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)