by Honourable Jason Copping
Minister of Labour and Immigration
Alberta. The land of opportunity. This is the idea that brought my parents here over forty years ago. They packed up me and my sister and headed west for better jobs and a hope for a better future for their children.
Fast forward 10 years to a bright-eyed and eager teenager standing in front of the store manager at All West Grocers looking for a job. I didn’t have a lot going for me other than I was willing and ready to work. No experience. No skills. But for whatever reason, that man said yes and I started three days later.
It was that job that kick-started my working life. It wasn’t glamorous but I learned to be punctual, detail-oriented, responsible and how to appropriately interact with a customer asking in what aisle they could find the peanut butter and whether they wanted paper or plastic bags.
Looking back now I realize that hiring a young worker with no experience was a risk that my employer decided to take on. We often hear from youth today that employers are looking for employees with experience. But how can they get experience if they can’t get that first job? I wonder what would have happened to me had I not been able to find an employer that was willing to take that chance?
Unfortunately, that is the reality that thousands of youth are facing right now. The former government’s policy to raise the minimum wage in the face of one of the worst economic downturns in Alberta’s history created the very conditions where inexperienced youth, in particular, are unable to find work. The minimum wage went too high too fast, and the job market could not keep up.
The Bank of Canada estimates that a 10% increase in the minimum wage decreases youth employment by 2.6%. Other studies have stated that number is more like 3-6%. The previous government raised the minimum wage by nearly 50% in three short years. These studies are reflected in reality. With the stats showing that unemployment for those under 18 for Q1 of 2019 is almost triple the adult unemployment rate, we can see that the previous government’s policy has failed.
This is unacceptable. Lack of job opportunities for our youth limits their earning potential over the long term. In the land of opportunity, it is critical that our youth are able to enter the labour market and find that first job that is so important for future job success. The Youth Job Creation Wage is designed to incentivize our job creators to look at that bright-eyed young person with no skills and experience and give them a chance. We owe it to our youth to ensure that they have all the opportunities that the generations before them had.
Let’s give Alberta’s youth a chance.
Publisher’s Note: Editorials are the opinion of the publication. Columns are the opinion of the writer. The Morinville News welcomes columns and letters from a variety of sources, including government and opposition,
The Honourable Jason Copping’s recent article in the Morinville News can not be allowed to stand without some rebuttal. If I understand the jest of his remarks he believes that the $15.00/hour minimum wage has been responsible for the down turn in the Alberta economy, especially as it relates to the employment situation. At the very least he has suggested that the unemployment rate in Alberta is the responsibility of the previous government because they raised the minimum wage by over 15% in three short years.
Now compare that statement to the fact that there are some individuals ; eg Corporate CEO.s making obscene wages approaching 1 billion dollars a year. Given this understanding does the Minister expect the people of Alberta to assign blame for the down turn in the Alberta economy to a relatively limited number of young employees. Give me a break!
First of all let us reflect on this situation. The young people working at $15.00 /hr are very likely saving up a few dollars for their University of other post secondary education. Why have the tuition rates skyrocketed in the past 20 years? Well my friends, and I include Minister Copping here because I think everyone deserves a little respect, the fact that the adult business owners continue to demand that their corporate taxes remain 25% less than
the more established adult employees, which in turn means that our government can not balance their own budget and assume responsibility for post secondary education. Mr. Minister when are you going to understand that it is the least payed members of our society that pays the way for the most affluent people of our society, after all we make up about 90-95% of the population, like most Third World countries in the world.