Younger generations say minimum wage pay cannot support a reasonable living

Businesses are seeing a loss of employees, as minimum wage workers are tired of living off such little pay.

Businesses in the province who don’t pay a living wage are seeing high employee turnover. Some business owners blame it on the younger generation of workers, calling them lazy and unmotivated. Josh Hodder/Kicker

Josh Hodder
Kicker

Young people who are in minimum-wage jobs are quitting or just not applying.

And while some the blame the employee turnover and labour shortage on young people calling them lazy and unmotivated, youth say the issue isn’t that simple.

Many minimum-wage workers are tired of how little they are paid. Often teens and young adults live on their own and must pay rent, buy food, pay utilities and buy gas so they can get to work.  Many of the younger generation feel that minimum wage is far too little to pay their rising expenses and maintain a comfortable living.

According to Hyrestaff.com, the current minimum wage in Newfoundland and Labrador is 12.50 per hour. This puts the province at the fourth lowest in all of Canada, sitting behind Manitoba at 11.95 per hour, New Brunswick at 11.75 per hour and Saskatchewan at 11.45 per hour. Nunavut has the highest minimum wage in Canada at $16 per hour.

Tie Elford, an 18 year old teen from Corner Brook, was working for $12.50 an hour at a local Tim Hortons. Working for minimum wage pay took a toll on him, he says.

“Its not just physical, like lifting and everything, there’s a lot of mental stress that comes with it,” said Elford. “You got to be doing something you’re at least happy with, and what are the chances that you’re going to be happy with minimum wage? It’s just too much (stress) for what you’re getting paid.” As of October, the unemployment rate in Newfoundland and Labrador is just over 12 per cent, according to the province. The annual inflation rate, according to the website inflationcalculator.ca, is 4.7 per cent

“By the time you have everything you need, you don’t have much left.”

Elford found it difficult to stretch his funds from paycheck to paycheck working a minimum-wage job.

“I was paying for taxis to work,” Elford said. “I had to buy food and pay for everything. By the time you have everything you need, you don’t have much left.”

Elford quit his job at Tim Hortons back in August. Since then, he has been collecting employment insurance cheques and saving his money.

“The plan is to just save and save and save,” said Elford. “I want to save up so I can eventually go to college and get a better job that I’m actually happy with.”

“I felt like I had a real talent and something to offer to the community that isn’t just pumping out pizzas.”

Garrett Payne, a 20-year-old man from St. John’s, used to work at a pizza place in Mount Pearl for minimum wage.

“A term that’s used a lot is golden handcuffs,” said Payne. “They (young workers) need their money and they don’t have time to build a skill or venture off into a different career. They just get stuck somewhere where there isn’t a lot of room for growth.”

Since leaving his minimum-wage job, Payne has been making a name for himself with his graphic design work. He has worked with establishments such as Square Burger and Jungle Jim’s on George Street.

“I felt like I was doing myself a disservice,” Payne said. “I felt like I had a real talent and something to offer to the community that isn’t just pumping out pizzas.”

 

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