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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

Bringing Minimum Wages Above the Poverty Line

Report by Stuart Murray, Hugh Mackenzie

Stuart Murray and Hugh Mackenzie argue that raising the minimum wage across all Canadian provinces to $10 an hour is possible and necessarily fair. They report that since the minimum wage hit an all-time low between 1984-1990, it has remained stagnant with only minimal increases. Further, they argue that minimum-wage workers are overdue for a raise. They also disagree with critics who contend that an increase would be superfluous or damage the economy.

According to the authors there are typically three criticisms over raising the minimum wage: 1) the problem is trivial given there are so few people working at that level; 2) most minimum wage earners are young people living at home; and 3) raising the minimum wage would have dire effects on employment. Murray and Mackenzie’s report debunks each of these myths. First, when looking beyond actual minimum-wage earners to those making under the proposed $10, they found that the issue is no longer about a small amount of young people but about families trying to get by. Second, they refute the argument that raising the minimum wage will cost more jobs than it will help individuals. According to the authors, “there is no compelling evidence to suggest that raising the minimum wage would result in significant job loss.” Murray and Mackenzie acknowledge that sometimes job rates fall or rise after a minimum wage hike, but these fluctuations are more the result of large-scale changes in the economy such as recessions or increases in female labour participation.

The authors conclude by highlighting the potential benefits of a minimum-wage increase. Specifically, Murray and Mackenzie note that an increase would alleviate problems for the working poor, help reduce dependency on government programs and allow firms that are decent wage providers to remain competitive and expand recruitment, possibly creating jobs. The authors advocate for a minimum wage that is indexed to inflation to keep inflation from eroding any gains made.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Stuart Murray; Hugh Mackenzie;
Publisher: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2007; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: National;
Registration Required: No Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Labour & Markets / Unions
Policy Articles / Labour & Markets / Wages & Benefits
Policy Articles / Labour & Markets
Policy Articles / Welfare & Social Issues
Policy Articles / Welfare & Social Issues / Inequality
Policy Articles / Labour & Markets / Unions / 2007
Policy Articles / Labour & Markets / Wages & Benefits / 2007
Policy Articles / Welfare & Social Issues / Inequality / 2007


Keywords / Tags:

wages; minimum wage; 10 dollar and hour; job loss; job creation; students; youth; families; working poor; poverty; female labour; youth employment;