I’ll forgive you if you’ve been too buried under all this lovely April Alberta snow to notice that Alberta Legislature is in session. A new session, with new MLAs, will bring all sorts of intelligent hijinks’s/painfully predictable heckles and intelligent intentional/painfully unintelligible quotes from the floor of the Legislature.
In today’s edition of The Best of Hansard, we hear from the Treasury Board President and the Honourable Member for Vermilion-Lloyminster, Lloyd Snelgrove (yes, Lloyd from Lloydminster). In responding (but not answering) a question posed by Calgary-Varsity MLA Harry Chase during last week’s Question Period, Snelgrove made a stunningly stunning statement:
Mr. Chase: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There is no excuse for child poverty in abundant Alberta. Sixty-four thousand Alberta children are living in poverty. Although more Albertans are employed now during this time of incredible economic prosperity than ever before, full-time work at minimum wage does not permit an escape from poverty.
To the President of the Treasury Board: with the paltry increase of 40 cents bringing the minimum wage to a mere $8.40 an hour, how can this government continue to justify token wage increases instead of establishing a realistic living wage which would act as an effective tool in ending child poverty?
Mr. Snelgrove: Mr. Speaker, I grew up in a very poor family. We looked after each other, and we looked after our neighbours. There were very few government programs of any kind to do it. There was a certain pride that was developed amongst our community and each other in how we had to lift one another up. The hon. member is well aware that the minimum wage was never designed nor will it ever be an amount of money that you can raise a family on. In many ways it’s an educational learning experience for some. It brings people with limited skills into the workforce, and it accomplishes that very well.
While I have no doubt that growing up in poverty gives a person different perspectives and values, calling it an “educational learning experience” makes it sound like a field trip to the museum…