Charlottetown — With Prince Edward Island’s minimum wage announced to increase to $12.85 an hour in April 2020, Islanders working low-income jobs are excited at the opportunity to not have enough money to cover rent at the non-existent vacant apartments.
The increase grants Islanders the highest minimum wage in Atlantic Canada, and despite that, tenants are living three to a single room in order to have a roof over their heads.
“Yay…This helps me pay heating this month…Is what I would say if I wasn’t living out of my car,” said Jane Kitsch, a barista in Charlottetown.
“I’d happily take a big cut on my hourly wage if my work offered employee housing as part of the deal. Maybe the province should invest in long-term living arrangements and look at the bigger picture.”
Many Islanders suggest that the rise in minimum wage will just prompt businesses to raise their prices, feeding into a cycle of higher cost of living.
“I can’t afford to pay my employees $12.85 an hour!” cried local grocery store owner Terry Jackson, who is renting week-to-week at a nearby motel.
“I’m going to have to raise prices to make up for my losses. Employees already steal rotting food from our dumpsters for their lunches, so it’s not like they’d be spending their wages here anyway.”
Other residents have pointed out that if the province lowered taxes rather than increasing minimum wage, it would make everything more affordable for everyone.
“How are we supposed to afford to run this island if we don’t tax it to death?” said Premier Dennis King, who himself is looking for any vacant bachelor pads ideally under $2,000/month (with no luck).
“Our bridge toll isn’t enough — especially since nobody comes here in the winter. It’s our citizens’ responsibility to keep us afloat.”
The new rate is a 60-cent increase from the previous minimum wage of $12.25 an hour. Charlottetown’s apartment rates are equal to Ontario, where the minimum wage is $15 an hour.
“Uhh, so I guess I should just move to Ontario?” said Kiersten Gallant, a recent graduate of UPEI. “All my costs of living will still be high, but at least I’ll have a few extra dollars to pay for it and not be stranded on an island with potato-loving redheads.”
When presented with the concerns of Prince Edward Island residents, Premier King promised to help out.
“All right, so if you can’t afford food, how about this: Every islander gets a free potato every day. You like that?” asked King, clearly proud of his ingenuity.
“Yup, we’ll have potato stations you can swing by on the way home from work. Then you boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew, whatever floats your boat. One meal on the government — that should save you some money!”