A Living Wage is a Decent Wage

Yukon workers deserve to earn a minimum wage that allows them to live decently.

Currently, Yukoners who rely on minimum wage earn $11.51 per hour. And that’s before any tax comes off the top. Most minimum wage discussions tend to go down the path of cost, instead of decency. Let’s take a quick look at the cost side so we can better understand the argument for decency.

Let’s imagine a worker putting in 60 hours a week at two different minimum wage employers (with no overtime). At the current minimum wage, their take home is just under $33,000 a year after taxes.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Now, given the recent rent survey completed by Yukon Bureau of Statistics, let’s assume our worker is single and pays the average rent for all types of rental units, $1,184.00 per month. Over a year, that total comes to $14,208.00. Nearly half of our worker’s income is gone in rent.

I could go on, but I imagine folks can predict where this math leads. Come year-end, a worker with one full-time and one half-time job has been able to little more than meet their survival costs.

The only decent alternative to the minimum wage is a living wage.

In Yukon, the current living wage is calculated as $18.26 per hour. Quite a jump from the current minimum wage of $11.51 per hour. The reason for the gulf between the two values comes down to what they were/are intended for:

  • The minimum wage was introduced in 1975 to prevent exploitation of women and youth in the workplace.
  • The living wage is designed to bring individuals and families out of poverty and into a place of economic security, or decency.

Times have changed since 1975 and businesses have become powerful lobby groups which are shamefully given the same rights as people. What has been lost along the way, is the understanding that businesses exist to fill the needs of the people. If people can’t afford the costs of goods or services, businesses will starve and die.

Making decisions on how much people should earn, based on the cost to business, is indecent.

Providing people with a decent income would result in more spending on goods and services. Plus, people who aren’t on the knife’s edge of poverty have much better quality of life, meaning less cost to our health care system. Healthy, happy, decently living people attract more of the same, which would lead to positive population growth for the Yukon. And the more people who call Yukon home, the more income for businesses. The benefits go on and on.

It’s time for Yukon government to make the right choice, and support individuals and families in their ability to live a life of decency.

You can give your opinion about minimum wage and living wage in the Yukon government survey covered in this post.

For more information about the Yukon Living Wage, click here.