* The following is a letter to the editor (Calgary Herald) from Susan Brooke and Joe Ceci of Calgary Social Workers for Social Justice
Re: Pay Day, Increasing minimum wage won’t help Alberta’s poor - editorial Calgary Herald, September 10, 2012
The recent Herald editorial missed the mark when it concentrated largely on the specifics of those earning minimum wage rather than considering the lot of all low-wage workers in our province. The editorial also selectively trotted out the old clichés about the demographics of minimum wage earners, failing to recognize the fact that many of these workers are not simply youth working for pocket money or job experience. Many minimum wage earners are over the age of 25, and working to support their families. The minimum wage certainly has a gender dimension too. Overall, though, minimum wage or not, the evidence suggests that wages by themselves are no guarantee that working people will not face the social exclusions caused by the daily grind of poverty.
Therefore, if we are to deal with poverty we need to address it in a comprehensive manner. Certainly, wages have a necessary place in this broad ranging approach. However so do adequate childcare, affordable housing, income replacement programs and job re-training. Simply put, the elimination of poverty requires a combination of approaches if it is to be successful and sustainable.
Finally, while minimum wage may be paid to less than two percent of Albertans they are our fellow citizens and are deserving of social policy and economic respect.