Letter: Poverty is not a good business model

A new business model has crept into Canada that demands people be paid poverty wages and treated as dispensable cost items

To the editor:

I started a small B.C. high-tech firm and was an integral part of its 30 year success. We were a non-union operation that paid livable wages and benefits to our 20 to 25 employees. We looked after our team and they, in turn, looked after us. It was a successful business model.

A new business model has crept into Canada that demands people be paid poverty wages and treated as dispensable cost items. The owners of these companies claim they can’t survive unless their employees live in poverty at the current minimum wage of $10.85/hr and usually less than 40 hours per week. Even raising the minimum wage to $15/hr falls short of the $18/hr stated minimum to stay above the poverty line in B.C.

I find it interesting that the employers pushing this poverty model are generally large multinationals and their franchisees in the food service and retail sectors. They have minimal ties to the community holding that as a threat to pull up stakes if they don’t get their minimum wage way.

Ultimately this poverty model is not sustainable. Already food bank lineups are lengthening with working families. B.C. continues to have one of the highest child poverty rates in Canada. How do children learn when their stomachs are empty?

We do not have to perpetuate this situation. On May 9 there will be a provincial election. This is your opportunity to vote for the party that most strongly pushes for a $15/hr minimum wage.

Steve Burke, West Kelowna

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