Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Crumbs From The Table



Poverty in perpetuity. That is what Ontario's 'socially-progressive' Premier, Kathleen Wynne, has condemned the working poor to.

After waiting more than six months for what turned out to be a very timid report from a provincial minimum wage advisory panel that ended up recommending increases tied to inflation, the premier has announced the new wage will be $11 per hour, with future increases tied to the inflation rate.

With one out of nine currently earning the minimum, this is hardly cause for celebration. Yielding, as usual, to the 'concerns' of business, Wynne had this to say:

“I know that there’s a call for $14 (but) we have to move very carefully, because this is about making sure that we retain and create jobs.”

“At the same time, we need to have a system in place that has a fairness to it, that I think has not been the case for many years.”


While few would argue that an immediate jump to the much-requested figure of $14 per hour would be too much for many small businesses to bear, the truly discouraging fact is that the premier makes no mention of further increases other than those tied to inflation. If $14 per hour would have put those working 35-40 hours per week just 10% above the poverty rate, one needn't use a calculator to know that the working poor will continue to be mired in poverty.

Today's Star editorial makes the following observation and suggestion:

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government can do better. It should, at the very least, follow the Ontario Liberals’ earlier trend of raising the minimum wage 2.5 times faster than the rate of inflation. As part of its “war on poverty” the previous Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty raised the provincial minimum wage by 50 per cent between 2004 when it was $6.85 an hour and 2010 when it topped out at $10.25 – a period when prices rose just 17.5 per cent.

If the same formula was followed now, it would mean an immediate jump in the minimum wage to about $11.65 an hour.


Hardly the stuff of revolutionary thinking, perhaps, but at the very least, a start on the road to economic justice.

6 comments:

  1. The corporate lobby is alive and well, Lorne.

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    1. And stronger than ever, it seems, Owen.

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  2. Lorne, maybe her advisor is Kevin O'Leary.

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    1. A good one, LD, and probably not far from the truth!

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  3. Governments of all stripes seem to put little effort into educating the public about the significance of minimum wage levels to their society. Chamber of Commerce types love the straw man argument that minimum wage determines unemployment. Nonsense. If you need three employees to man the counter at your fast food joint, you aren't going to go to two and drive away customers because you have to pay an extra dollar an hour.

    Minimum wage employees are already a form of essential service labour. And it's not as though these minimum wagers are going to be squirreling the after-tax portion of that extra buck and hour underneath their mattress. No, they'll be putting it back into the economy to pay for the "necessaries of life." Maybe they won't be stuck with ramen noodles every night. Wow!

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    1. I was listening to the Toronto CBC late yesterday afternoon, Mound. The hostess, Gill Deacon, had the head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business on spouting the usual canards about increases being job-killers, etc. Guess what? Nary a word of protest from Ms. Deacon. There was a time on the CBC when both sides of the question would have been represented on such a show at the same time. Don't know how it is on the coast, but I found the CBC radio here giving carte blanche to the right-wing propagandist sadlly unsurprising.

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