This week saw the “No Timmies Tuesday” reaction to the minimum wage hike in Ontario that had the franchise owners declaring that this will be more than their bottom line can handle. We heard the same when the NDP government introduced its rate hike in the minimum wage here in Alberta.
The press too often gives voice to the business owners perspective but little time to how the minimum wage employee is affected. This part of our social justice seems at odds with our capitalistic business model, but why is this?
Yes, as a business owner myself, the expense side of our balance sheet involves the wages we pay our employees but it also has our income on the other side of that sheet. So let’s start with an honest accounting of this whole balance sheet. Economists argue the merits and pitfalls of this raise but for me, the bottom line is how do we justify allowing our working poor to remain just that, poor.
One of my key commitments as leader of the Green Party of Alberta is to model our policies and actions using the framework provided by the “Doughnut Economics” by Kate Raworth. This model ,which coincidentally happens to tie into the Tim Horton’s reaction, is based on the concept that our economy should be shaped like a doughnut. An interconnected, distributed economy where we all profit from and live fair and just lives. The outer ring of the doughnut represents the boundary of our economies taking from the resources of our planet, too much extraction causing too much harm to our Earth is unacceptable to sustain a healthy economy. Conversely the inner “Tim Bit” as it were, is the boundary where, if we fall below, the affects on our citizens is too dire and requires us to put into action the concept of social justice. Hence minimum wage.
The Green Party of Alberta is also willing to take this concept one step further and champion the possibility of a Basic Living Income for this province. Here is our current policy;
The Green Party of Alberta supports implementing a Guaranteed Annual Income in this province. Implementing this program would eliminate many of the current bureaucratic, highly administrative interventions that now exist; their ineffectiveness only exceeded by the humiliation they perpetuate. The current income tax system can administer this program without any additional bureaucracy.
The Green Party of Alberta would supplement the guaranteed annual income where needed.
Over the course of the last several decades, Alberta has ended up with a very skewed economy. Those boom and bust cycles drove up wages, the cost of housing, leases/rents and basic necessities. All the while leaving those living on minimum wage no benefit. Our province is better than that and we Albertans are better than that. We can and should be willing to pay the true cost of our goods and services and allow all of us to benefit from living here.