Last week, it was announce by our new Premier that minimum wage would be increased to $15 an hour by 2018. This is an incredible raise for those of us who are on work on minimum wage, and a significant blow to business who rely on cheap labour to keep their business running. While it needs to be recognized that minimum wage is not the solution to poverty, it elevates some of the burden that many face in our financial lives. Here is my report of minimum wage being raised back in September to $10.20, and how that minimal increase was almost a waste of time for most people. A quick note; going from $10.20 to $15 an hour while working 40 hours a week mean a weekly increase of $192 before taxes.
In early September of 2014, the government of Alberta instituted an increase to minimum wage, bringing it up to $10.20. This 50 cent increase from the previous $9.70 was welcomed by many, but it was really a small, empty gesture to an otherwise tired public. The increase would mean an additional 20$ to a full time worker. Also, many who sit slightly above minimum wage, will feel no increase at all. This change also requires thousands of dollars in administration from the government, with regards to changing government documents, as well as informing business and the public of the changes.
This clearly brings into question the point of the increase. It cost the government more to create this new legislation than any one who is on minimum wage will actually earn, and up until now Alberta paid the lowest amount across Canada. Minimum wage is not designed to solve poverty, and it never will. According to study done by Statistics Canada in 2004, of 1433 people living in Alberta surveyed, only 13 of them were on minimum wage. This mean that less than 1% of people in Alberta were working at minimum wage, and our unemployment rate at the time was 4.6%.This reflects the wealth that we have in Alberta. Another study conducted by the Government of Canada in 2011 showed that Albertans also have the highest average after tax family income in Canada. This province prides itself on being the richest and most self sustaining in the country, and we should have citizens who feel the same.
However, at the end of the day, students are often left in the dust when it comes to compensation. We are young, inexperienced, misinformed, and often mislead when it comes to finding jobs because we are needed on the front line of operations in order to keep businesses functioning. But we need to know that we are more valuable to these organizations then they make it seem. Asking for minimum wage should be your last resort, not your first.
Before going into an interview, regardless of where you look, make sure you know where your baseline is and make sure the interviewer knows that too. Several websites are there to find out the “behind the scenes” of a company. One of my personal favourites is glassdoor.com, which allows you to search job titles, companies and salary ranges of jobs to find one that suits you. You can even read reviews on the company from an employee perspective, which will prepare you for working there. Note that these are user generated answers, so take it with a grain of salt. This should be your next step in job hunting after preparing your resume. Interviewers are often impressed by your knowledge of the company, as it shows that you have genuine interest in their work. This will only make you a stronger candidate when it comes time to decide who to hire.
So ask yourself before every interview if you are going to but in more than the minimum, cause if you are, then make sure you get paid for it. Do your research on the company you plan on applying to, know what they pay, and ask for the best. Often this will land you a position that pays you a livable wage, and reduce your stress at school.
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