Alberta jumps on the $7 band wagon

By Joel Klettke

If you still haven’t put away those party streamers and Batman balloons from your 12th birthday, you’re in luck. The lower classmen finally have cause to rejoice! No, I’m not talking about greasy hair-metal dads, I’m talking about those who work for minimum wage (which, come to think of it, could probably be lumped into the same category). That’s right, the minimum wage here in Alberta was raised from its lowly $5.90 an hour to a mind-boggling $7.00 an hour as of September 1 this year. If you weren’t partying down to commemorate the event, you’re not alone.

Let’s face it, this increase was further overdue than Richard Simmons’ next buns-and-thigh workout video. You’d think the government would recognize Alberta being Canada’s economic powerhouse and would have opted to increase the piss-poor wages they were dishing out to those unfortunate enough to be stuck in minimum wage positions before now. Previously, Alberta had been boasting the lowest minimum wage rate of any province. Sadly, the business savvy province of Alberta paid its minimum wage workers less than Newfoundland. While the burger flippers, disgruntled hotel maids and psychologically tormented retail cashiers continued working 20 hours every two days just to pay off their work-induced-anxiety medication, the government looked the other direction (the direction of the oil tycoons, apparently). This suited many people just fine–after all, less than one per cent of working Albertans earn minimum wage–about 11,000 people. That’s not even half of the current U of C population.

Even so, I can admit that the increase did in fact benefit me and I had been earning well over minimum wage. I got what they call a “retroactive” pay raise. This change to my salary is one of the goals of the increase in our province’s minimum wage. The move is hoped to cause what number-crunchers, sexy accountants, and hoighty-toighty politicians everywhere call a “trickle up effect.” The increase to the payments of the lowest of the low income earners should eventually cause those earning even a buck or two over minimum wage at least a few more cents towards their tuition fees. Stellar. Even despite the increase in wages, tuition, gas prices, and parking fees continue to scale upwards. So basically, the entire idea was–while still a good one–not all that exciting or awe-inspiring to anyone.

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