Some questions on business affairs and social programs

Reader discusses social programs and their effects on business.

Dear Editor,

A word of caution: even though my remarks are primarily directed to business people, people who manage or own businesses, I have never managed or owned a business .

There are two reasons for addressing this sector: a) In the fall of last year the Alberta government announced plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and 2) the Federal government has recently implemented the new Canada Child benefit which the government believes will push “tens of thousands of Canadian children above the poverty line and could help stimulate an economy that could use a jolt in the arm”. According to the CBC “the poorest families will see the biggest boost while the wealthiest families will see their child benefit disappear completely.”

Both governments suggest that these policies will significantly reduce poverty in Alberta and in Canada.

I wonder what the impact on businesses will be.

As I mentioned earlier I have no business experience ; what experience I do have, was as a laborer during my student days, working in sawmill , taking 2 by 4’s off a conveyor belt, as a rock picker for a farmer and work as a janitor. In all those environments there naturally was an owner or a manager, whose salary or income I was not aware of, though I believe their average monthly incomes were significantly larger than mine.

I am not sure how government analyzes or assesses the impact on businesses of social policies they create. Certainly as a private citizen, I have no idea what the revenue flow in any business might be. Few businesses I suggest would offer me specific information. I’m assuming that most well run businesses have a good handle on expenditures and income. Unless you run a business by the skin of your teeth, I imagine there’s some profit to be made and some discretionary spending at times. How do businesses identify their profit margin, how do they use their discretionary spending and on what basis do they pay their employees?

Typically this is a private affair between the business owner and Revenue Canada, unless the company has shares that are on public offer, where you might have limited access to information.

So when businesses challenge governments about social policy, what happens in the dialogue? Who shares what, and how much do they share? And is it a mutually beneficial affair or is it one sided?

I have absolutely no idea what the answers are . I can speculate all I want. There is a reality though in which businesses and employees live and in a democracy, I can assume, it is not a deeply held secret.

George Jason