Minimum Wages in Canada: A Statistical Portrait with Policy Implications
The minimum wage is one of the oldest social policies, originating in New Zealand in 1894 and spreading to Canada in the early part of the 20th century. Yet it remains highly controversial. Some people argue that minimum wages in Canada have fallen so low that they amount to a passport to poverty rather than a basic adequate wage and crucial protection from exploitation. They contend that we should boost minimum wages to achieve the long-sought goal of a ‘living wage’ so that there would be no working poor. Others oppose raising the minimum wage because they claim employers would react by trimming their payroll costs and so would reduce employment. This view holds that boosting the minimum wage would harm, not help, low-wage workers, especially the young and unskilled who are most likely to work for the minimum rate. Not surprisingly, some governments and business organizations cite this ‘killer-of-jobs’ argument in their opposition to increasing the minimum wage. Unfortunately, the debate on minimum wages in Canada takes place in an empirical void. There is no comprehensive, up-to-date source of essential data, information and analysis on minimum wages and minimum wage workers throughout the country. This study helps fill that void by charting trends and rankings of minimum wages in Canada’s ten provinces and three territories, as well as in the form of a national weighted average. The report traces the changing value of minimum wages from 1965 to the present and compares them to before-tax and after-tax poverty lines, average earnings and welfare incomes. It also investigates the size and key characteristics of the minimum wage workforce nationally and in each province. It compares Canadian minimum wages to those in the US and a number of advanced industrialized nations. The final section discusses the policy debate on the minimum wage in light of the findings of this research. This study establishes a set of baseline indicators that will be updated regularly to provide an invaluable time series on minimum wages and minimum wage workers in Canada. Researchers will be able to analyze in-depth trends and patterns in minimum wages and minimum wage workers both nationally and from one jurisdiction to another across the country. Policy makers, administrators and researchers will have a unique source of comprehensive information from which to cull evidence that can help inform and test their arguments.
ISBN - 1-55382-035-5
Price - 24.95
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