In “Low wages sending the wrong message,” (The Guardian, Oct. 4) the editor blames business owners for labour shortages. He concludes that the onus is on Island businesses to pay wages on par with the rest of Atlantic Canada. He quotes statistics about P.E.I. having the lowest average weekly earnings in July, and then does not consider the impact of P.E.I. jobs differing from other provinces, although he admits, “there are a lot of factors behind the numbers, including a number of seasonal and student workers on the Island.”
While acknowledging that P.E.I. businesses pay the highest minimum wage in Atlantic Canada, he does not compare our industries and skill levels to other provinces. P.E.I. has the highest percentage of private employment by small businesses (under 100 employees), and also the highest percentage of small businesses by population in Atlantic Canada.
I also suspect our small businesses are much smaller than other provinces with lower skill requirements based on the mix of industries. Perhaps we have less high tech or oil/gas jobs, for example? These would result in lower overall average wages.
The editor should also compare the incomes earned by our business owners with those of other provinces. After better analysis, I suggest he may want to congratulate Island business owners for creating jobs and paying fair wages consistent with other Atlantic Provinces, while also paying higher income tax rates and likely having lower incomes themselves. Maybe he can do the research and get back to us?