A response to people saying “Tim Horton’s Employees don’t deserve $14 an hour”

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Chalk sign asking for a $14 minimum wage.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”?

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  • Bryan

    As a Tim Hortons employee, I’m inclined to agree.

    But more seriously, and as a politico, I agree again, and probably moreso. It’s simply true that the best social program is a good job with fair pay, and if we can take care of that (and therefore save a TON of money on social programs) then why don’t we? That’s my question.

  • Nikol

    In a beautiful perfect world, everyone would be rich and poverty would be eliminated…. Why should a person with no education and who does a service to people that requires little training make 14.00 an hour, when someone who has gone to college for 2 + years is lucky to get paid that wage (think ECE) or someone who has completed university is only making 14-16?? Of course if they raised the wages of every other job in the country then it would be more understandable… But then our economy would collapse… And you know what? The poverty level would just be raised to adjust for everyone’s higher wages. I am not supporting people living in poverty but c’mon if it was just ever so easy to fix it wouldn’t exist…

    • ChristyK

      Why should going to college for two years or completing university entitle a person to make significantly more money for the rest of their lives? Isn’t getting to do a job they want good enough reward? We need to eliminate college and university tuitions for anyone who takes school seriously enough to pass their courses, and then acknowledge that getting through the degree doesn’t entitle one to earning significantly more.

      One of the things that really struck me was learning that if you divided the population of Canada into five groups – wealthiest 20%, then the next wealthiest 20% all the wa down to the poorest 20%. The top 20% own 71% of the wealth in Canada, the next group (middle class professionals and some small business owners) hold %17.4. Next group holds %7.1, followed by 1.3 and %0.6. The point was that if the money was divided relatively evenly, we’d all be able to live within that second highest group. Yet instead of taking any political action to try to demand that, we pit the unionized workers and low-income workers (third and forth percentiles, holding approximately 7.1% and 1.3%) of the wealth against each other. We act like we can’t raise that bottom bit without hurting the middle, when really, we’re all being robbed blind by the people at the top.

  • jane Don

    I don’t get–Anywhere in North America in the last 60yrs when min wage went up-the economy Improved—A proven fact) when min wage gets so low that people are better off on welfare (esp when you include benefits like prescriptions/Glasses ect) it costs society more– A lot more–

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