Yesterday was June 1, 2014 and here in Ontario Canada, the minimum wage rose from $10.25 to $11.00 per hour. That wage is now at the top end of the minimum wage in Canada, as each province and territory sets their own minimum wage. So how does this wage compare to where you live and work?
Because I work with those on social assistance here in Ontario, I like to find out the equivalent someone on assistance makes when you look at the minimum wage for comparison sake. While the funds someone receives on assistance vary due to family size, I always take the single person who receives at this time, $626.00 per month as a measure. If you were working full-time, you’d work 7 hours per day, so let’s multiply that by 5 days per week, and then let’s multiply that number times 4 weeks in a month. That gives us the equation 7 x 5 x 4 which equals 140 hours. Therefore, let’s divide the $626.00 a single social assistance person receives by 140 hours, and we get $4.47 as an hourly wage equivalent.
Thus a person on assistance with no job is receiving $4.47 per hour, while a person with a minimum wage job is making $11.00 per hour. Okay, so what does this look like on a monthly basis? Well we started by using $626.00 as a monthly income for a social assistance recipient. For the minimum wage earner working a full-time job, we take the $11.00 per hour and multiply it by the 140 hours we arrived at earlier. (The 5 day a week, 7 hour per day job multiplied by 4 week scenario above.) So $11.00 x 140 hours = $1540.00 per month.
So what we’ve got here in Ontario as of June 1, 2014, is the following: If you have a full-time minimum wage job bringing in $1540.00 per month, you are $914.00 ahead of the person who has no job and only the social assistance rate of $626.00 per month.
Interesting to me are the people who will now state, “But hold on, you haven’t factored in transportation costs to get to work and child care.” Okay let’s look at that. First I want to pose a question however. How much does the government subsidize the wages of working people not on assistance for their transportation? Well, The answer is zero transportation funds. I’m expected – as are all working people – to pay for my personal or public transportation needs out of the salary that I earn. It’s only when I’m on social assistance that I may receive additional funds for transportation.
As for childcare? Well childcare subsidy is possible for any working person based on their wages, expenses, and overall family income. You do not for example have to be receiving social assistance to have some childcare subsidy eligibility. But again, most working people who have childcare costs, pay for that care out of their regular income.
The issue of having to pay entirely for things without any assistance from anyone else is something that those who have been on some form of government assistance for prolonged periods sometimes have a hard time of understanding. Not all mind you, just some. In fact, one of the other benefits that many on social assistance in this jurisdiction have difficulty adjusting to center on the topic of benefits. When you are in recipt of social assistance you may have dental, medical and optical coverage.
One of the misconceptions out there is that as soon as a person on social assistance obtains employment of any kind, their file is closed; and with that closure is a loss of benefits. However that’s not the case in the area I work in, while it may vary from place to place. Where I work, anyone on social assistance has their social assistance reduced and eventually finds themselves ineligible due to the income they receive. It’s like weaning off of assistance and learning to adjust to having full responsibility for your own expenses. One of the things that is really beneficial to those just starting new jobs is the possibility of still receiving medical benefits for 6 months or a year after starting a new job depending on whether or not the employer provides benefits, and even if they do, having to wait to receive them.
I’d personally like to remove the word, “minimum” when talking about minimum wage. After all, it evokes (for some anyhow) the idea that if you’re getting paid minimum wage, it only fair you perform minimum work. And that’s not the case by a long shot. I think you should do your best and put forth the best quality of work you can in order to not only feel better about yourself and the work you do, but to impress your employer enough to justify a higher wage.
Everything has a flip side though doesn’t it? After all, wouldn’t some employers figure if they are getting real production out of someone who is working for minimum wage, why pay more? This kind of thinking is small-minded are short-sighted in my view. So instead of an employer thinking this way, I’d hope they’d think to themselves, “I want this person to stick around, which they won’t if they have a great work ethic and I’ll be forced to go through the hiring process all over again.”
When you’re working for minimum wage, work with personal pride no matter the job; don’t work for the pay cheque, work for your dignity, your future and your present self-worth.