Friday, Sept 22, 2017 

BC Politics

Making It Work

Minimum wage increases a hot-button issue for Martin
By Staff/Voice file photo

 

n Monday, Chilliwack MLA John Martin had a chance as Liberal Labour Party Critic to make a statement in the Legislature.

 

Several times throughout his statement he was heckled and had to stop and wait for it to quiet down.

 

In his statement, he admonished the NDP for shelving the George Massey Bridge and Site C dam projects and blasted them on the "messy" way the party applied for intervener status on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline which cost BC $7500 extra.

Martin seized on the opportunity to rail again on the NDP regarding the Northwest LNG which he said would bring in "thousands and thousands" of long-term jobs. Between the pipeline, the Site C dam and LNG projects he said the province lost $36 billion in new revenues.

Martin stepped outside of his purview as Labour Critic and reminisced how it was in the 1990s calling it "dismal years" and during the recession in 1980.

He added that in the 1990s, BC tended to rely more on Asian trade than with the US. But seems to have forgotten the importance of a strong trade relationship now with the USA as that's where the majority of BC food comes from, but he didn't forget to say "Go Seahawks Go".

Also in the 1990's, he said the government of the day had to rely on equalization payments from other provinces and insinuated that BC may have to rely on those payments again to "keep the lights on" with this NDP budget. But many would see Martin's comments as a false flag and a shocking divergence of logic.

Flash forward to the present, because that's where most people are, Martin said the NDP has to move with caution regarding minimum wage increases and questioned how $15 an hour would be attained without affecting small business adding that many would close shop because of the increases or would turn instead to automation with things like tap and pay technology and how there would be fewer servers in restaurants because of it.

He said the Liberal budget had a small increase worked into their budget as well but warned that a $15 an hour increase by 2021 will hurt small business especially when owners are already working 80 hours a week to make ends meet.

Martin punctuated his comments by calling the NDP reckless with the announced increase and said that they would would be "tormenting" small business with the thought of minimum wage going up and how they wouldn't have time to plan for it — despite the 4 year timeline the NDP has said they will phase it in by. Martin said he wanted to avoid creating the hardships an all-of-a-sudden increase would bring.


He also indicated that teens and young people would be negatively affected when trying to land jobs but didn't say how.

 

Jacking up the minimum wage 50˘ would mean a $4 increase on an 8-hour day, $20 on a week and $80 a month — before taxes.

The reality is that an $80 monthly increase wouldn't help people much who are living on a minimum wage of $11.35 with vehicle payments, rents that consume half their wages and increases to basic utilities.

MLAs receive a $105,881.83 annual wage and cash bi-weekly cheques of $4,062.22 and get to write off expenses — a far cry from the current minimum wage

 

In comparison, minimum wage earners pull in $15,080 annually for a 40-hour-a-week—before taxes and MSP premiums and cash bi-weekly cheques of under $600 and do more work, much of it swinging hammers on construction sites, changing oil or working at places like McDonalds. Plus, they'll need to work decades to draw a pension.

BC MLAs pay 11 per cent of their salary to their pension fund but can draw a full pension after just 6 years, or 1˝ terms in the Legislature. In 2011, the BC government paid $2,451,280 to pensions. If the person dies then their spouses get 60 per cent in perpetuity.


The bottom line is as minimum wage increases, small business understands increases have to come and they understand inflation rate as well, so it's not out of the question to imagine they'll just pass on any increases to customers.

So, no worries, right?

These comments are based on the provincial Hansards and MLA Martin's statement which are in draft form only.

 

 


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