Editorial: Vicious circle of the minimum wage hike

In case you needed another reminder that we’re on the verge of a provincial election, the B.C. Liberals have provided it.

Monday’s announcement that the province’s minimum wage will climb by 50 cents to $11.35 should come as no surprise to anyone who owns a calendar bearing the date May 9.

But as everyone who’s spent any time in politics will know, the response will be mixed.

As the saying goes, you can’t please all of the people, all of the time.

As much as the hike will come as very welcome news to those currently earning minimum wage, there are plenty of people who aren’t going to be as delighted.

Among them are small business owners, who will now have to dig a little deeper into whatever profit they’re turning, to make up the difference in their employees’ pay.

Of course, with any raise in the minimum wage, there is the risk people will be laid off, or have their hours severely curtailed to make up the difference.

Then there are the employees who have been working their way up the scale only to find new employees being taken on at the same rate. They will have an axe to grind, too, if they don’t see a similar hike in their own pay.

And, of course, there are those who say the raise doesn’t go far enough, maintaining anything less than a $15 per hour rate, is too little to survive in many parts of B.C.

They’re not wrong.

In fact, none of them are wrong.

But this raise, whether you find yourself on the side that deems it too much — or too little — is absolutely necessary in a province where the cost of living seems to climb every time you pull out your wallet.

Whether they’re paying for a litre of gas or a litre of milk, the pressure placed on the so-called working poor grows heavier every year.

It’s an all-too familiar pattern.

Employers will grumble, and then they will pay, inevitably passing the increased cost along to the consumer.

Customers will grumble, and then they will pay. For many, the increase will barely register. Or, not for long, at least.

The truly unfortunate twist in all this is that many of those people — including parents, students and otherwise unskilled workers — who are labouring for minimum wage are going to see a significant portion of that increased purchasing power whittled away by rising prices before they have time to enjoy it.