Coffee break with George: Minimum wage, Tim Hortons and cost of living in Canada's North

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Image: George Lessard virtually taking a picture of Tim Hortons in Yellowknife

This week's protests at Tim Hortons in various parts of Ontario have fuelled the debate about minimum wage -- worker justice on one hand, employer profits on the other. The argument by some vocal business owners in the fast food sector is that they just can't be profitable if they have to pay their workers a higher minimum wage.

Yet, there are places in Canada where employers pay higher than the minimum wage in the hospitality/food sector, and they're still in business. For example, a recent post on the internet job site indeed.com advertises a food counter attendant job at McDonalds for $15-17 an hour in Yellowknife. A front desk agent for a hotel in the same city lists a wage rate of $16.78 an hour. The minimum wage in the Northwest Territories is currently $12.50.

George Lessard, has lived in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories for 30 years. He's also known as Media Mentor, working as a media consultant, photographer, writer, and trainer.  He's also a longtime rabble supporter and contributor. rabble.ca podcast exec producer Victoria Fenner spent her coffee break talking to George about minimum wage in the North and how people survive in a place where jobs are scarce and the cost of living is much more than down south.

Image: George Lessard virtually taking a picture of Tim Hortons in Yellowknife.  Photos by George Lessard

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