Thoughts on the Minimum Wage

Posted by Daniel on Nov 27, 2009 - 5 comments

Vancouver historian Chuck Davis writes:

Thoughts while pumping gas: On December 4, 1972 the minimum wage for adults in British Columbia was set at $2 an hour, the highest in Canada. Economic doom was predicted, especially when the NDP government promised a further boost to $2.50 an hour by mid-1974. Even more alarming, the new bill applied for the first time to women as well as men.


“That anniversary steak dinner you promised your wife,” the restaurant industry told The Vancouver Sun, “will cost between 20 and 40 per cent more in June, 1974. And your morning coffee at that little diner down the street might not be available at all because the diner will be closed.”


There were cries of alarm from the hotel industry and from nursing homes as well.


Prices at the time? You could see Frank Zappa live at the Agrodome for $3.50. The best-selling paperback, The Primal Scream, was $1.50. A loaf of raisin bread was 35 cents—about 18 minutes work.


BUT! gas was just 49.9 cents per gallon.


To fill my 40-litre (8-gallon) tank in December of 1972 with gas at 49.9 cents per gallon would have cost me $3.99, two hours’ work at minimum wage. Today, with the minimum wage at $8, to buy those same 40 litres at, say, $1.06 a litre, costs me $42.40, or 5.3 hours.

Where’s the Tata Nano when you need it?