The hypocrisy of opposing a minimum wage hike: Coren

August 11, 2017
Article Source
Toronto Star

From a Toronto Star opinion piece by Michael Coren: The Ontario government is committed to increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2019. It's still hardly a livable income but at long last something is being done to remedy the insultingly low current level of a little over $11.

Of course it's partly a political decision intent on winning votes, and it may well be argued that consultations have been inadequate and the jump relatively sudden. But none of this justifies the hysteria, anger, and seemingly constant barrage from critics convinced that Armageddon is just around the corner.

The economic arguments are various and often at odds, and while there are competing precedents the consensus is that the economy will be boosted and not blasted by the change. More to the point of course, it will give countless people more of a chance to pay the rent and feed themselves. Any society that regards itself as civilized should surely allow its lowest paid citizens at least a modicum of hope and dignity.

Small business owners are worried that they may have to fire people and that's not a fear that should be dismissed. What should be dismissed, however, are the outlandish and offensive claims being made by corporations, who in fact hire the majority of minimum wage employees.

Their line seems to be that if governments increase the minimum wage their vast profits will slightly diminish so as a response they will fire people, such as cashiers. And if anyone believes that being a cashier is easy they certainly have never done it. Nor will a minimum-wage increase make a devastating dent on corporate profits. Do we seriously believe that investors and owners will suddenly be going hungry or — God forbid — have to send their children out to work at minimum wage jobs?

My wife is a minimum wage worker. She has an MA, is an experienced educator, but after the children left home she found it difficult to find work. Frankly, we need the money. We've done OK financially and are much luckier than some but neither of us came from wealthy families. She's often at work before 5 a.m. and on her feet the whole time. Some of her colleagues are young but not all — only around 18 per cent of minimum wage workers in Ontario are teenagers and up to a third of people who use food banks are working adults.

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