A rising tide must start with our primary producers

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The national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Paul Moist, reached out to workers in general this week, while in Prince Edward Island for the union’s 34th annual provincial convention.

“We want to raise all boats,” he said.

He was referring to workers’ wages, both unionized and non-unionized.

The tide is a wonderful thing: As it rises, everything floating on it rises with it.

Sure, Moist would like to see a base minimum wage for CUPE members, but he points out his union wants fair wages for all.

There is, of course, a little bit of idealism at play here. The reality is, though, the current economic climate on Prince Edward Island is such that many employers can barely pay minimum wage.

The current minimum wage on P.E.I. is $10 an hour. It goes to $10.20 on June 1 and to $10.35 on October 1. That means some workers on Prince Edward Island who are currently earning minimum wage are counting on a 35 cent an hour wage increase by fall.

The workers aren’t going to get rich on this, but it’s a help, provided they keep their jobs and their employers can afford to pay them.

Floating all boats applies nicely to Prince Edward Island’s seasonal economy, particularly the fishing and farming sectors. Anytime the price of meat, fish and vegetables takes a jump, consumers are quick to complain about the cost.

Think you’ve heard enough about fishermen or farmers complaining about low prices? Think again.  The more they get the better off the provincial economy will be as most of what P.E.I. farmers and fishermen harvest ends up leaving this province and is consumed elsewhere.

Those off-island consumers, then, help float our economy. A rising tide, they say, floats all boats.

In short, we might pay a little more for our fish and chips, but if our primary producers are doing well, they will be making purchases, employing more labourers and paying them better – we hope.

We can complain about the high cost of meat, fish and vegetables, but better prices are really the rising tide that’s needed to help raise the island’s economy up off the rocks.

Organizations: CUPE

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island

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  • Nick
    May 24, 2014 - 11:39

    Compared to other provinces, PEI receives the highest equalization payment per capita, has the lowest gdp per capita (in all of Canada, including territories), has one of the highest sales tax rates, and everyone knows someone who feels entitled to 11 months paid vacation (E.I.) after working a few months at an unskilled labor job. Meanwhile, politicians will nicely, or not so nicely, remind Islanders that there's a great option for them if they find this all hard to swallow: to leave. There are too many people not pulling their weight, and too many taxes holding down the ones who are working hard.