2017: The year of calling “bullshit”

How Appropriate.

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2016 is post-truth – an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

In the wake of Donald Trump’s successful use of lies and bullshit, post truth has caught on. And we aren’t immune here in Manitoba.

The Pallister government has been quick to dish up all kinds of ‘post truths’ (that’s code for ‘bullshit’) and the mainstream media has been far too slow to call them on it.

So, here at Value Manitoba we’ve decided to challenge Premier Pallister, Manitoba’s Donald Trump, and call bullshit on the matter of fact claims he makes on a host of issues.

While research and fact checking has lost popularity in the post truth era, we are going out on a limb because we believe people do want the truth. So, throughout 2017 we’re going to tell you when and why we’re calling ‘bullshit’ on our Premier.

Post Truth Pallister #1

In a year-end interview Premier Brian Pallister stated that he doesn’t believe a higher minimum wage reduces poverty. “It’s a mitigation tactic that is seen on the surface to be helping but really doesn’t reduce poverty”. Huh?

The truth is that it helps. A 50 cent increase to the minimum wage provides workers with $928 in additional income after provincial income taxes are deducted.

This article in the Washington Post delves into the arguments on both sides and determines that it does make a difference. No, an increase to the minimum wage alone won’t end poverty, but it certainly helps.

But you don’t really need to look at research or ask Premier Pallister – not that he’d answer your email from his estate in Costa Rica – to verify that. Just ask someone living on minimum wage what an extra 50 cents an hour would do for them. The importance of minimum wage increases was confirmed in this CIBC report on job Inequality: “The good news is that those at the lowest end of the wage spectrum are seeing relatively healthy wage gains—not due to bargaining power but mostly due to policy changes regarding minimum wages”.

So, any gains low-income Manitobans have made over the past 15 years are due to steady increases in minimum wage. 2016 was the first year that Manitoba’s minimum wage didn’t go up since 1999. Pallister’s refusal to keep increasing means that all that progress will begin to erode. In fact, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (Manitoba), with 2016’s wage freeze, full-time minimum wage earners will lose $400.00 each year to inflation. That’s $400 worth of bullshit right there.

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Think you don’t know anyone raising a family on minimum wage? You might be surprised. According to the Manitoba Federation of Labour:

  • Two thirds (66%) of minimum wage earners are adults over the age of 20 and;
  • Significantly more minimum wage earners are women (60%) than men (40%). This contributes too much higher incidents of women living in poverty, and worsens Manitoba’s serious child poverty problem.
  • The majority of minimum wage earners work for larger employers: 72% work for firms with 20 or more employees.
  • Just over half (51%) of minimum wage earners have been in their same job for a year or more and are still making the minimum wage, suggesting that the only raises they can count on are increases in the minimum wage.
  • Only 40% of minimum wage earners are students, many of whom work more than one job to pay tuition and manage student debt.