The minimum wage in B.C. jumped by 75 cents to $14.60 an hour on Monday, June 1. Stephany Garber Black writes the timing of the increase “couldn’t be better.” (Black Press File Photo)

The minimum wage in B.C. jumped by 75 cents to $14.60 an hour on Monday, June 1. Stephany Garber Black writes the timing of the increase “couldn’t be better.” (Black Press File Photo)

COLUMN: Timing just right for raising minimum wage

Raising minimum wage will protect human life and reduce poverty, writes Garber Black

By Stephany Garber Black

Special to the Cloverdale Reporter

I disagree with Jock Finlayson’s conclusions that when it comes to increasing the minimum wage, the timing couldn’t be worse.

The timing couldn’t be better. I say this because raising the minimum wage will protect human life and reduce poverty.

(Finlayson’s piece “Minister should look at financial carnage amid min. wage increase” ran in the June 4 issue of the Cloverdale Reporter.)

The minimum wage increased 75 cents to $14.60 per hour on June 1, an extra $6 for eight hours of work. These minimum wage employees are often working in restaurants and customer service where their interactions with the public make them more vulnerable to being exposed to COVID-19 than those in different industries. We need to trust these people to stay home when they feel ill to protect the rest of us.

Fighting poverty is part of protecting us collectively because minimum wage workers should not be forced to choose between working sick or being able to pay rent and eat. The increased minimum wage will help those workers protect themselves and others in the coming months.

The minimum wage historically has always been about protecting the vulnerable. According to our federal labour standards, the government has put minimum wage in place to protect non-unionized workers, reduce the number of low-paying jobs, alleviate poverty, create incentives to work and address inequality.

It is apparent the business community has organized and has advocates like Finlayson to protect their interests. Still, labour is discouraged from organizing to defend their wages because businesses can take away those coveted jobs.

SEE ALSO: COLUMN: B.C.’s labour minister should look at COVID-19 financial carnage amid minimum wage increase

Instead of mentioning that the minimum wage is in place to protect the vulnerable and reduce poverty, we have Finlayson reducing labour to a business expense. Talking about labour as a cost of production is problematic, because if working people are reduced to a business expense, what is a human life worth? I would argue that human life is precious and can’t just be looked at only in economic terms. This principle that human life is more than just a production expense is why we have a minimum wage in the first place.

Raising the minimum wage is not as bad as Finlayson makes it seem. Studies have shown that while raising the minimum wage may slightly increase unemployment; it also increases job stability. That means that it may be harder to find a job at first, but it is more likely to be a job you keep after you do. It also has a ripple effect of increasing other people’s wages, especially those close to minimum wage. If there is a time when we should protect the poorest and create more stable jobs, shouldn’t it be during a global health crisis?

Finlayson makes mention of the “calamity” and “carnage” the COVID-19 crisis has caused businesses. Perhaps we should remind ourselves why businesses closed in the first place—to protect human lives while we prepared and restructured our society during the pandemic. We chose to put the collective good before our individual needs as we listened to experts, voluntarily closed businesses, stayed home, and practiced social distancing.

As we look at the struggles of businesses, we must not forget the minimum wage workers and the working poor. The poor and the vulnerable need our help during a global pandemic when unemployment rates are rising and they have an increased chance of exposure to COVID-19.

Therefore, in the fight to protect human lives and decrease poverty, I politely disagree with Finlayson by saying that increasing the minimum wage could not have come at a better time.

Stephany Garber Black is a journalism student at the University of the Fraser Valley.

Minimum Wage

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ramona Kaptyn. (Submitted photo)
Ramona Kaptyn to run as Surrey Connect candidate in next election

She’ll be joining councillors Brenda Locke and Jack Hundial as the slate’s third candidate

Surrey RCMP is asking for the public’s help to find Jasvir Singh, who was last seen crossing the border into Canada on Nov. 24, 2020. (Photo: Surrey RCMP handout)
Surrey RCMP looking for missing man last seen crossing border into Canada

Police say Jasvir Singh hasn’t been seen since shortly after midnight on Nov. 24

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (Now-Leader file photo)
LETTER: Nobody in Surrey believes Doug McCallum and his half-truths

Policing promises remind me of mayor’s vow to build SkyTrain at half the projected cost

White Rock Whalers head coach Jason Rogers (centre) along with other members of the team show off their whale-tail-inspired moustaches in support of Movember. (Photo courtesy of White Rock Whalers)
White Rock Whalers raise thousands through Movember campaign

Junior ‘B’ hockey team fundraising for men’s health initiatives

(Photo: Amy Reid)
VIDEO: 2020 Community Leader Awards recognize Surrey’s unsung heroes

They don’t often receive recognition and don’t necessarily have a high profile in the community

FILE - This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  Pfizer announced Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, more results in its ongoing coronavirus vaccine study that suggest the shots are 95% effective a month after the first dose. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)
VIDEO: B.C. planning for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the first weeks of 2021

The question of who will get the vaccine first relies on Canada’s ethical framework

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

British Columbia Premier John Horgan speaks during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Horgan is set to introduce his NDP government’s new cabinet Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP cabinet built to tackle pandemic, economic recovery, says former premier

Seven former NDP cabinet ministers didn’t seek re-election, creating vacancies in several high-profile portfolios

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

Most Read