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Workers deserve a living wage

The government raises the minimum wage a stingy 25 cents and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) feels compelled to warn us about impending economic doom (“CFIB urges caution on future minimum wage increases,” The Telegram, Oct. 1).

Twenty-five cents an hour is equal to a measly $10 more for a 40-hour week, the equivalent of four litres of milk, and true to form the CFIB urges caution on future increases. You can’t help but notice the CFIB never suggests their idea of a fair minimum wage.

How can CFIB deny workers an opportunity to have a few more dollars in their pocket to spend locally in small businesses? We are sold as gospel that bonuses encourage high-priced Nalcor executives to work at a high level, and yet when the lowest income earners are given a 25 cent increase somehow our economy is in peril.

The big worry for the CFIB is that other provinces will follow the lead of the new NDP government in Alberta and likewise commit to increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018. CFIB is calling the Alberta plan radical and reckless.

Of course, we heard similar warnings from the Fraser Institute in 2011 when the B.C. government raised the minimum wage from $8 to $10.25. The Fraser Institute predicted job losses of 52,000 and a 16 per cent decline in youth employment — neither of which happened.  

It is interesting to note that Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles have all adopted the $15 minimum wage goal. New York State has now agreed that fast-food workers be paid $15 an hour. Ontario raised its minimum wage and also indexed future increases to inflation.

The reality is too many jobs simply don’t pay enough for people to live on. It’s time we made the minimum wage a living wage and index it to inflation.

Of course, such a reasonable proposal was recently put forward in our own House of Assembly by the NDP, and yet both the PC and Liberal parties voted against it. How pathetic.

Mary Shortall, president

Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour

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