LETTER: Raise the minimum wage? | Squamish Chief

LETTER: Raise the minimum wage?

Some say that small business owners should close their business operations if they cannot afford to pay a higher minimum wage. 

When the minimum wage is increased, more money has to be paid in benefits.  When the employer remits statutory deductions each month, the employer has to match the amount of CPP paid by the employees, and also pay 1.4 per cent of the amount the employees paid in UIC.  For the employer, quarterly payments also have to be paid to  Worksafe B.C. benefits. These are based on total gross earnings. 

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 The employer also has to pay vacation pay starting at four per cent of gross earnings, for the first five years of employment.  After five years of employment, this changes to six per cent of total wages.   

Some small business owners also have a group insurance benefit plan for their employees, which includes life insurance, weekly indemnity, long-term disability, dental, extended health, and eye care.  Some owners pay the total amount on behalf of their employees and others set up a cost-sharing ratio with their employees. When the minimum wage is raised, the total amount of the monthly group insurance plan bill also rises.

Small business owners use the minimum wage as a starting wage.  That does not mean, that all of their employees are paid minimum wage. After an employee has been employed for quite some time, the employer will give the employee a pay raise. 

For example, say minimum wage is $11.35 per hour.  Some employees will already be at $12.35 per hour.  When minimum wage goes up, say 50 cents per hour, then the employee at $12.35 must also get a 50 cent per hour raise.  These senior employees just don’t stay at the same rate of pay when minimum wage increases.  Employee benefits paid for on behalf of their employer are approximately 35 per cent.  The present B.C. minimum wage is $11.35 per hour. Add 35 per cent in benefits; the hourly rate is $15.32 per hour to the employer. 

 Effective June 1, 2018 the minimum wage will go up to $12.65 per hour.  Add 35 per cent in benefits and the hourly rate is $17.07 per hour to the employer.

The present B.C. NDP minority government knows nothing about how a business operates.  If they would take the time to learn the difference between a debit and a credit, then they would see what raising the minimum wage impacts the small business owner. The NDP would then have a different view on minimum wage.

What local franchise owners pay their workers is not relevant to the discussion  These franchise owners, have to sign lease agreements for their locations, which are set for a term and renegotiated after the term has expired. 

These franchise owners also have to pay a  per cent as a franchise fee, monthly, to the corporate owners, who own the franchise name.  This  per cent is calculated on the total sales of the business. These are the top two items that have to be paid monthly, not counting, all operating expenses of the company.

When the minimum wage is increased, a small business owner would rather layoff staff, than raise their prices to the customer.  Your NDP government solution is give all employees a pay raise and raise your prices to the customer.  This is why the past NDP governments in B.C., Ontario, and Nova Scotia were only one term governments, with Alberta joining the group next year when the NDP government will likely lose the provincial election. 

 The reality is that the customer is not willing to pay higher prices than what they are accustomed to.  An example is if a burger currently costs $7.50, and goes to $8.25 because of minimum wage increase:  The customer will object. Sales then go down, but all of the expenses still have to be paid by the small business owner.  Some expenses remain constant regardless of revenue.

Minimum wage is a pay scale used by small business owners. In summary, the main point that has to be remembered is that only new employees hired are paid the minimum wage.  After a time, they will receive a pay raise from their employer.  Many small business owners in Seattle, Alberta, and Ontario have chosen to lay off staff instead of raising prices since the minimum wage has been increased in these places.  

Joe Sawchuk

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