With approximately 38,600 Manitobans earning minimum wage ($10.45/hour) and fully 73,700 Manitobans making only 10% more, we need to ask if the minimum wage provides sufficient income to raise a family.
Low-income families – many working more than one job/parent - face difficult choices: pay the rent or buy food; forego dental care in order to buy school supplies; put off saving for retirement in order pay off some debt. Parents faced with these dilemmas are stressed to the point of becoming physically ill and/or depressed. Their children suffer as a result; they do worse in school and endure health problems of their own. These issues in turn cost both employers – in terms of lower productivity, absenteeism and employee turnover - and society in terms of healthcare costs, lower effective demand and revenues paid to income tax. In short, the effects of low wages are not just suffered by the employers who pay them, they are externalized in the form of social exclusion and higher costs to government. If families could earn a living wage, many of these effects would be lessened.