Even with a 30 cent increase, Manitoba’s minimum wage comes up short, keeps workers in poverty
The Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL) and Make Poverty History Manitoba (MPHM) joined together today to call on the provincial government to raise the minimum wage to a living wage level.
Unlike some other governments, Manitoba has taken important steps for fairness and equality by increasing the minimum wage every year for the last 16 years. But even with today’s thirty cent increase, Manitoba’s minimum wage of $11.00 / hour still leaves tens of thousands of workers living below the poverty line.
“Holding the minimum wage to a level that forces full time workers to live in poverty is unacceptable in today’s day and age, said MFL President, Kevin Rebeck. As a province with one of the strongest performing economies in the country, we need to raise the minimum wage to lift low income earners out of poverty. Having a job should be a pathway out of poverty, not a poverty trap.”
The MFL and MPHM called on government to legislate a four-year schedule of increases to the minimum wage to achieve Statistics Canada’s low-income cut off (LICO) before tax level of $15.23 / hour.
“While there are several ways to measure poverty, said Josh Brandon, Co-Chair of MPHM, LICO is a well-established and widely recognized measure calculated by Statistics Canada. Indexing the minimum wage to LICO will allow full time workers to earn a decent wage at least sufficient to meet their basic needs”.
Tying the minimum wage to LICO will provide a predictable basis for workers and employers to plan for the future, helping working families to make ends meet, and supporting employers with a more productive workforce, with less staff turnover.
Campaigns to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 / hour have been gaining momentum throughout the United States and Canada, with many progressive employers and jurisdictions committing to pay a living wage. The Province of Alberta has recently committed to raising its minimum wage to $15.00 / hour within four years.
A Profile of Minimum Wage Earners:
Most minimum wage earners are adults who depend on their earnings to support themselves and their families. We need a minimum that provides for work to be a pathway out of poverty.
Here are some facts about minimum wage earners you may not know:
- Two thirds (66%) of minimum wage earners are adults, age 20 or older.
- Significantly more minimum wage earners are women (60%) than men (40%). This contributes too much higher incidents of women living in poverty, and worsens Manitoba’s serious child poverty problem.
- It is sometimes assumed that only small businesses pay minimum wage, but the majority of minimum wage earners work for larger employers: 72% work for firms with 20 or more employees.
- Just over half (51%) of minimum wage earners have been in their same job for a year or more and are still making the minimum wage, suggesting that the only raises they can count on are increases in the minimum wage.
- Only 40% of minimum wage earners are students, many of whom work more than one job to pay tuition and manage student debt.
We are calling on the provincial government to incrementally increase the minimum wage to the low income cut off (before tax) (LICO-BT) measure for a single parent with one child family – which was $15.23/ hour in 2013 – and then index annually.
What is the LICO?
• The LICO is an estimate of how much income a household must earn so that they will not be required to spend significantly more than the average household based on three basic necessities: food, clothing, and shelter. This is a commonly used measurement of poverty.
• For ease of comparison with the current minimum wage.
• Wages are set before taxes and transfers taken into account.
• What people take home on their pay cheques / the cash in their hands on pay day.
Why one parent, one child family?
• A single parent with one child earning minimum wage is worse off, living $8,841 below the poverty line in 2014.
• Even with this 30 cent increase today, a single parent with one child, working full time all year is $4.23 per hour short of what is needed to live at the poverty line.
• Incremental increases to the minimum wage to a level that will ensure single parent households can live above the poverty line will also close the gap for households with two parents and two children and one-person households.
• This ask is in step with the $15 minimum wage campaigns across the country.
Why $15.23 in 2013?
• This is the last available date for LICO-BT in Manitoba.