Minimum wage hike unlikely to stem demand, says N2N food bank

News Jun 07, 2017 by Mark Newman Hamilton Mountain News

The director of family services at Neighbour to Neighbour Centre says the move by the provincial government to raise the minimum wage from $11.50 to $15 an hour by January 2019 might result in a slight decline in the demand at their busy food bank.

“I’m skeptical, but hopeful,” said Krista D’Aoust.

She noted about 20 per cent of the 1,200 households that use the Athens Street food bank each month are the working poor, people who have jobs but don’t make enough money to pay rent and buy groceries.

D’Aoust noted most of their clients who have jobs are working part-time hours and a rise in the minimum wage will likely be eaten up by rising housing and utility costs.

According to Living Wage Hamilton, a coalition of community groups including the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, the living wage in Hamilton is $15.85 an hour and is based on what the hourly pay would have to be to cover the cost of basic items such as food, clothing, shelter and transportation.

Covering a rising minimum wage could be also challenge for many small businesses.

“For it to go to $15 an hour, where does that leave me?” wondered Deb Kitchen, owner of Linseeds on Concession Street. “I hope sales go up enough to offset it.”

Kitchen noted she already pays her two part-time staff $2 an hour above the current minimum wage.

“It will definitely make it harder to keep two (employees),” said Kitchen.

She added the minimum wage hike could lead to more employers paying people “under the table” where they take cash at less than $15 an hour.

“I think that will happen at a lot of places,” Kitchen said.

Marvin Ryder, assistant marketing professor at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business, said he expects the province’s lowest wage earners will use the extra $4,000 to $5,000 they’ll receive for previously deferred purchases, like clothing or updating household appliances.

“Much of this money is going to get plowed back into the economy,” Ryder said.

Those currently earning more than the minimum wage but less than $15 could receive a bump-up as well, as employers look to maintain parity in their payrolls.

“This isn’t going to the top one per cent or even 10 per cent of the population. For the bottom 50 per cent (of the labour pool) it’s probably the best news they’ve seen in a long time,” said Ryder.

Ryder said Ontario isn’t the first jurisdiction to move toward a $15-an-hour minimum. Alberta is headed that way, and the NDP-Green coalition in British Columbia could do the same. In New York state, the hourly minimum wage is just below the equivalent of $15 Canadian.

“We’ve not seen a massive number of people let go. What we have seen is inflation,” said Ryder.

With files from Mike Pearson

Minimum wage hike unlikely to stem demand, says N2N food bank

Rising housing and utility costs expected to eat up pending increase to $15/hr.

News Jun 07, 2017 by Mark Newman Hamilton Mountain News

The director of family services at Neighbour to Neighbour Centre says the move by the provincial government to raise the minimum wage from $11.50 to $15 an hour by January 2019 might result in a slight decline in the demand at their busy food bank.

“I’m skeptical, but hopeful,” said Krista D’Aoust.

She noted about 20 per cent of the 1,200 households that use the Athens Street food bank each month are the working poor, people who have jobs but don’t make enough money to pay rent and buy groceries.

D’Aoust noted most of their clients who have jobs are working part-time hours and a rise in the minimum wage will likely be eaten up by rising housing and utility costs.

According to Living Wage Hamilton, a coalition of community groups including the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, the living wage in Hamilton is $15.85 an hour and is based on what the hourly pay would have to be to cover the cost of basic items such as food, clothing, shelter and transportation.

Covering a rising minimum wage could be also challenge for many small businesses.

“For it to go to $15 an hour, where does that leave me?” wondered Deb Kitchen, owner of Linseeds on Concession Street. “I hope sales go up enough to offset it.”

Kitchen noted she already pays her two part-time staff $2 an hour above the current minimum wage.

“It will definitely make it harder to keep two (employees),” said Kitchen.

She added the minimum wage hike could lead to more employers paying people “under the table” where they take cash at less than $15 an hour.

“I think that will happen at a lot of places,” Kitchen said.

Marvin Ryder, assistant marketing professor at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business, said he expects the province’s lowest wage earners will use the extra $4,000 to $5,000 they’ll receive for previously deferred purchases, like clothing or updating household appliances.

“Much of this money is going to get plowed back into the economy,” Ryder said.

Those currently earning more than the minimum wage but less than $15 could receive a bump-up as well, as employers look to maintain parity in their payrolls.

“This isn’t going to the top one per cent or even 10 per cent of the population. For the bottom 50 per cent (of the labour pool) it’s probably the best news they’ve seen in a long time,” said Ryder.

Ryder said Ontario isn’t the first jurisdiction to move toward a $15-an-hour minimum. Alberta is headed that way, and the NDP-Green coalition in British Columbia could do the same. In New York state, the hourly minimum wage is just below the equivalent of $15 Canadian.

“We’ve not seen a massive number of people let go. What we have seen is inflation,” said Ryder.

With files from Mike Pearson

Minimum wage hike unlikely to stem demand, says N2N food bank

Rising housing and utility costs expected to eat up pending increase to $15/hr.

News Jun 07, 2017 by Mark Newman Hamilton Mountain News

The director of family services at Neighbour to Neighbour Centre says the move by the provincial government to raise the minimum wage from $11.50 to $15 an hour by January 2019 might result in a slight decline in the demand at their busy food bank.

“I’m skeptical, but hopeful,” said Krista D’Aoust.

She noted about 20 per cent of the 1,200 households that use the Athens Street food bank each month are the working poor, people who have jobs but don’t make enough money to pay rent and buy groceries.

D’Aoust noted most of their clients who have jobs are working part-time hours and a rise in the minimum wage will likely be eaten up by rising housing and utility costs.

According to Living Wage Hamilton, a coalition of community groups including the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, the living wage in Hamilton is $15.85 an hour and is based on what the hourly pay would have to be to cover the cost of basic items such as food, clothing, shelter and transportation.

Covering a rising minimum wage could be also challenge for many small businesses.

“For it to go to $15 an hour, where does that leave me?” wondered Deb Kitchen, owner of Linseeds on Concession Street. “I hope sales go up enough to offset it.”

Kitchen noted she already pays her two part-time staff $2 an hour above the current minimum wage.

“It will definitely make it harder to keep two (employees),” said Kitchen.

She added the minimum wage hike could lead to more employers paying people “under the table” where they take cash at less than $15 an hour.

“I think that will happen at a lot of places,” Kitchen said.

Marvin Ryder, assistant marketing professor at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business, said he expects the province’s lowest wage earners will use the extra $4,000 to $5,000 they’ll receive for previously deferred purchases, like clothing or updating household appliances.

“Much of this money is going to get plowed back into the economy,” Ryder said.

Those currently earning more than the minimum wage but less than $15 could receive a bump-up as well, as employers look to maintain parity in their payrolls.

“This isn’t going to the top one per cent or even 10 per cent of the population. For the bottom 50 per cent (of the labour pool) it’s probably the best news they’ve seen in a long time,” said Ryder.

Ryder said Ontario isn’t the first jurisdiction to move toward a $15-an-hour minimum. Alberta is headed that way, and the NDP-Green coalition in British Columbia could do the same. In New York state, the hourly minimum wage is just below the equivalent of $15 Canadian.

“We’ve not seen a massive number of people let go. What we have seen is inflation,” said Ryder.

With files from Mike Pearson