Ontario needs a $14 minimum wage just to allow full time minimum wage employees to earn above the poverty line. (Or more accurately, above the low-income cut-off line, one of many statistical measures for poverty, and in this case above the low-income cut-off line only for a single person not someone with dependants.) Despite this there’s comments on online pages about recent antipoverty activist events saying that “Tim Horton’s employees don’t deserve $14 for pouring coffee.” I have to take a few minutes to let that idea digest.
People believe that other people should live in poverty.
They think that a person can provide a service full time to others and still not deserve to be out of poverty.
I can to some extent understand arguments about minimum wage causing inflation (though I think efforts to keep inflation down are part of class warfare securing the wealth of the wealthy while impoverishing the poor). I could understand arguments about the difficulties faced by mom and pop businesses (though more than half of Ontario’s minimum wage employees are employed by corporations with over 100 employees). I can even understand the argument that the definition of poverty being used in this case is arbitrary and perhaps not all that useful. What I cannot understand is the idea that people believe they are so entitled to cheap coffee and donuts that those waiting upon them should accept poverty-level wages.
I guess there’s the argument that serving coffee should be a right of passage for young people, not something people do their whole life. Then perhaps we’d better ask ourselves if that’s truely the situation. Do we have enough young people willing to take on the role, and do we have enough other jobs for those no longer assisted by their parents to do instead?
I suppose the argument is that if a person wants to be above the poverty line he or she should get an education and therefore a better job. Nevermind that educations now mean a huge debt and better jobs are not always available. Nevermind that most of us still want coffee served somehow. Why should a better job be required? Serving coffee is a job.
My husband assures me that serving coffee at Tim Horton’s (a job he did for years while going to university) is not a piece of cake. It can be exhausting and thankless. There was always more work to do cleaning or helping customers. It’s not so wonderfully fun we should expect people to do it for a hobby and not really get paid properly for it. What kind of crazy classist attitude do people have that they would look down upon someone else and say “the person doing that job – they deserve to live in poverty”?