Manitoba’s minimum wage increased from $11.15 to $11.35 per hour effective October 1 2018. What if minimum wage was to increase to $15.00 per hour?

I normally don’t provide too much of an opinion (publicly), but this is one issue I think I do need to debate.

Ontario and Alberta have plans to increase their minimum wage to $15/hour in the near future.

So what are the benefits to increasing the minimum wage to an arbitrary $15 per hour?

I believe the positives outweigh the negatives.

First, if you ask most small businesses what their number one challenge is, it is they need more customers walking through their doors buying their goods and services. If there are more people at the lower end of the pay scale making a bit more money, they will spend it. Higher wage people who make more money just tend to save it.

In the town of Ste Anne where I live near and have my office located in, we have seen rapid growth of multi-family dwellings in the past few years. There are more apartments, more condos, more townhomes and more three- and four-plexes. This has been good for our community.

One resident recently shared with me that he would have liked to see more single family homes coming to town. I explained that as a small business, we like to see many low cost multi-family units as it brings in many more “customers” to town. And these residents may be less likely to be travelling to Winnipeg daily to work and shop, so it is better for the small businesses in town. If we have six families living in the equivalent of one larger single family home lot, that is five more families that need the goods and services of the Town of Ste Anne.

Now isn’t it these small businesses that also employ the low wage earners? Yes, but it is also the big multi-national companies like big retailers and fast food chains that employee lots of minimum wage earners and most of them are part time jobs. And these companies make lots of profit partly because of the low wages they pay their employees. Time to shift some of this profit to the lower income employees.

Is this Liberal or NDP thinking? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

I am a conservative leaning individual, but I consider myself a “soft” conservative: I believe in less government, but I also believe in human beings and dignity. I think that many costly government problems (poverty, poor health, crime) could be partially solved by having the lower income individuals earning just a bit more.

I have been somewhat influenced in the past few years by reading more and seeing first-hand the success of the “Nordic countries”: Denmark (where I have visited several times in the past 10 years because of family ties), Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland.

Normally these countries rank in the top “happiest” people in the world. Part of the reason is the high minimum wage, fewer hours worked, and taxpayer supported programs (health and child care). Are these people highly taxed? Yes, but they recognize the benefits of higher income for all. They have a very large middle class; fewer lower income and fewer higher income than Canada.

I don’t consider increasing the minimum wage to a “living” wage; I consider it a dignified wage. The ability to participate more fully in our economy.

So if minimum wage increases to $15/hour don’t I have to pay my employees (who are paid more than minimum wage) more? Yes, but I believe my higher expenses will be offset by more revenue from more clients who can afford to pay for my services.

I believe higher minimum wage may eventually reduce the size of government as there may be less government services needed if there is more money in the pockets of the lower income earners. More income to pay for prescriptions they cannot afford, more income to pay for better quality food. More cash to help keep them healthier.

Tell me what you think… and let your provincial elected officials know if you believe in a higher minimum wage; this isn’t a conservative vs liberal vs NDP idea. It’s dignity idea.

On another note, a reminder that we will still have two more Death Cafés in October and two more in November, and possibly two more in January.

What is a Death Café? The short definition at is: “At a Death Café people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink coffee or tea (or wine?), and discuss death. The objective is to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.”

One of our recent participants said “everyone should attend a Death Café; so many questions I didn’t know I had; so much good information in a comfortable environment.”

If you would like to be on our contact list, let us know.

Anni Markmann is a personal income tax professional, a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging, and a Certified Financial Planner; living, working, and volunteering in our community. Contact us at 204.422.6631 or 36 Dawson Road in Ste Anne (near Co-op) or