Tuesday, January 9, 2018

UPDATED: Despite The Hysteria The Sky Will Not Fall

In an op-ed piece the other day, Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, wrote of the economic Armageddon awaiting Ontario businesses thanks to the recently-hiked Ontario hourly minimum wage to $14, to be increased to $15 next year.

While no one can fault Kelly for pandering to the interests of his constituents, his arguments apparently carry little weight with the larger public, who see nothing but good coming from paying a living wage to the people who make profits possible for our titans of business.

Star letter writer Tom Doris of Toronto offers his response:
Dan Kelly has the misguided attitude that any business creating jobs must be considered a successful business and be left alone by government despite poverty wages, denied tips and no job security for its workers.

Indeed, his arguments lead me to conclude that his membership has not the capability to create vibrant, living-wage jobs. As well, he appears to be insistent that workers in this province should be thankful for any position no matter the wage, treatment or security.

By contrast, jurisdictions throughout the western world have thriving small businesses that pay living wages (not just a sham attempt at such). He and his membership need to learn how to be successful without exploiting workers.
Meanwhile Ken Fitzsimmons of Toronto has a clear-headed suggestion that that could quell Mr. Kelly's rising hysteria:
Dan Kelly doesn’t get much sympathy from me.

His examples of businesses that are paying the price for the increase in the minimum wage are dry cleaners, coffee shops and mechanics. Seriously? That’s ridiculous. All these shops have to do to cover the increased expense is to raise their prices. Now, don’t try to tell me that this will make them uncompetitive. All their competitors are in the same situation and will have to raise their prices as well. The people that will actually bear the cost are the customers themselves and that is as it should be. It is a small burden to pay so that all employees can have at least a half-decent wage. The extra cost would be minimal as it is spread out among the general public, not the business owners.

Having said that, there are businesses that will suffer and I do feel sorry for them and they should be given some consideration. They are businesses such as retailers that compete with online business that don’t have the same employee expenses. It’s also tough to compete with low wages from other countries, but that doesn’t give employers the right to keep wages low in Ontario. There are other ways to combat unfair labour practices abroad.

Sure there are problems to be resolved, but this outcry from a lot of business groups that the sky is falling is mostly just nonsense.
One line from the above letter bears special emphasis: The people that will actually bear the cost are the customers themselves and that is as it should be. It is a small burden to pay so that all employees can have at least a half-decent wage.

Anyone taking issue with that sentiment should at least be honest enough with themselves to admit they prefer that some toil away in economic enslavement so they don't have to pay a little more for the things they want and need in life.

UPDATE: For those interested in making their voices heard over some of the despicable retaliatory practices being enacted by business, I just got this notice from LabourStart Canada:

On the heels of the $15 and Fairness campaign victory in Ontario that saw the minimum wage rise to $14/hr a number of Tim Horton's shops are cutting worker benefits, breaks and other entitlements. Employers are preserving their profits by making workers pay for the increase.

But you know this because you read our news pages and follow our social media feeds. So let's cut to the chase.

If you live in Southern Ontario then on Wednesday you have 3 demos in support of the Timmy's workers to choose from (OK, there may be more by the time you read this so contact your local Labour Council. If there isn't one near you suggest it):

COBOURG: 5pm @ the Timmy's at 970 Division St, Cobourg, Ontario K9A 5Y5.

DUNDAS: 5pm @ the Timmy's at 38 York Road, Dundas. L9H 1L4

WEST TORONTO: 8am @ the Tim's at 1094 Bloor West M6H 1M5

If you are at the Cobourg demo look for me. I'll be wearing an Australian union toque and scarf. I'll buy you a coffee if we can find a place. :-)

Not an Ontario resident? Wish us luck because, unless you live in Alberta where the rate has already gone up, you'll be facing the same, soon. If we can win this it might just be a little easier for everyone else.

In Solidarity,

Derek Blackadder
LabourStart Canada


  1. It will not be easy to put and end to the Neo-liberal agenda, Lorne.

    1. The need to speak out on behalf of workers' rights has never been more urgent, Owen.

  2. .. well into the blurry era of 'fake news' partisan politicians and failed mainMedia.. we lose the voice of successors to Marshall McLuhan, Hunter S Thompson.. and Tom Wolfe in the broiling roiling pile on.. of the social media miasma..

    Who needs 'polls' .. those slacker entities hanging out in big box shopping malls? There are simple realities to raising minimum wage.

    Here's one. How about that single parent of two children, holding down two minimum service jobs in Alberta, PEI, Newfoundland or Saskatchewan? Who with an approx 2.60 increase, can pump 1/4 tank of gas, weekly.. into their used Toyota or pay for public transit pass and not run on empty with fingers crossed till payday.. while feeding the kids bulk store pasta or rice ?

    1. Thanks, Sal. Your example puts the mean-spirited business carping about minimum wage increases into some much-needed perspective.