Monday, April 24, 2006

On the seventh day...

...Vila rested, after a week of no-holds-barred partying. Then, she did her taxes.

I will spare you the details of my three-day struggle with my tax forms, other than to say that being a Quebecker is sometimes a royal pain in the ass. Here, and here alone, we are obliged by law to complete two separate tax returns, a form of cruel and unusual punishment that makes sovereignty look good by comparison.

I will also spare you a rant about poorly designed software programs which, in their zeal to “simplify” a task, instead manage to complicate it to the point of absurdity. (I’m looking at you, Quicktax!) And it goes without saying that technical support people who know less about the programs they have been hired to troubleshoot than you do—and who, after having surmised this, try to blow you off—should be shot on sight.

But I digress.

After completing my tax returns, I decided that I should look in on where the poverty line is these days. According to Statistics Canada, it is, for a single person residing in a large urban centre, $20,337. Which is, incidentally, $4529 more than what you would make if you worked forty hours a week for one year at the current minimum wage. Before taxes.

Call me a communist (and believe me, a few people have), but doesn’t this discrepancy suggest that the minimum wage should be raised to at least $9.78 per hour, a rate that would match—but still not exceed—the poverty line? As a certain dreamy intellectual recently opined:

We must take steps to enhance the equality of life chances for the working poor. Canadians working 35 hours a week earning minimum wage are making less than $15,000 a year. These hard-working Canadians are now under-represented in our income security regime. We need to make certain that our system provides the incentives for them to remain or return to the labour market, to work hard, while removing the fear and insecurity that blights their potential.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I come up $4154 short. Maybe next year?

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