Op­po­si­tion with­out solid so­lu­tion dis­ap­point­ing

The Barrie Examiner - - NEWS -

This past June, On­tario’s Lib­eral gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion that will raise the min­i­mum wage to $15 and also guar­an­tee work­ers at least three weeks of va­ca­tion a year af­ter five years with the same em­ployer.

I have to say that I am some­what dis­ap­pointed hear­ing some of Bar­rie’s top politi­cians talk­ing against these historic im­prove­ments for On­tario’s and Bar­rie’s hard-work­ing fam­i­lies.

In my view, the worst of all this is that the po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion is just for the sake of op­pos­ing the gov­ern­ment with­out bring­ing any solid so­lu­tion of their own to the ta­ble.

The wage in­crease will progress un­til the $15 mark only by 2019 and will mean that work­ers will then earn an in­come slightly above the poverty line. As a di­rect re­sult of these changes, many of those work­ers may not need to balance mul­ti­ple jobs, and I be­lieve em­ploy­ers will see more pro­duc­tive em­ploy­ees and re­duced staff turnover.

As a busi­ness owner my­self, I un­der­stand the min­i­mum wage in­crease will af­fect my bot­tom line and it will fur­ther bur­den one small group: that is, the em­ploy­ers of low-wage work­ers and, to some ex­tent, their cus­tomers.

This goes back to my pre­vi­ous com­ment re­gard­ing those city politi­cians who have drawn a line for the sake of only op­pos­ing rather than to be will­ing to en­gage in the dis­cus­sion and bring so­lu­tions to the ta­ble.

For example, how about those politi­cians who op­pose the min­i­mum wage in­crease look into how costs as­so­ci­ated with in­creased wages can be off­set in other ar­eas such as the low­er­ing of small busi­ness tax rates and cor­po­rate tax rates, and less red tape, to make the tran­si­tion eas­ier. This way, both groups ben­e­fits.

Or, who knows, maybe de­velop bet­ter poli­cies with so­lu­tions that will fa­cil­i­tate eas­ier ac­cess to cap­i­tal, al­low­ing busi­nesses to achieve their full po­ten­tial. The prob­lem that plagues our econ­omy is not the wage in­crease pro­posed by the gov­ern­ment, it’s the dif­fi­culty for start-ups, and small and mid-sized busi­nesses, ac­cess­ing cap­i­tal for ex­pan­sion.

Gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion in the mar­ket­place can some­times cre­ate more prob­lems than it fixes. I would pre­fer a pol­icy rais­ing and in­dex­ing the min­i­mum wage so the in­creases would be fore­cast by all the busi­ness, there­fore in­cor­po­rated on its op­er­a­tional cap­i­tal plan.

I would like to end it by say­ing that we also can’t be blind to the many stud­ies that show in­creas­ing min­i­mum wage in­come, not only ben­e­fits the in­di­vid­ual but also the econ­omy. When peo­ple have more money in their pock­ets, they have more pur­chas­ing power to spend in their lo­cal economies. Af­ter all, min­i­mum wage earn­ers will not be spend­ing their in­come on in­ter­na­tional va­ca­tions or ex­trav­a­gant cars – they spend it in their com­mu­ni­ties, buy­ing food, get­ting school sup­plies for their kids and going to lo­cal restau­rants and ac­tiv­i­ties.

For those politi­cians that op­pose in­creas­ing the in­come for the work­ing poor with­out bring­ing any so­lu­tions of their own to the ta­ble, but rather looking af­ter their own po­lit­i­cal ad­vance­ment, I have a mes­sage for you.

You’re fight­ing against the masses; you’re fight­ing an up­hill bat­tle, be­cause most On­tar­i­ans, even most Cana­di­ans, are OK with rais­ing the min­i­mum wage.

Let’s fo­cus on the real prob­lem here. Let’s fo­cus on how the busi­ness com­mu­nity can be helped to be more suc­cess­ful by cre­at­ing poli­cies and strategies to stim­u­late healthy eco­nomic growth thereby cre­at­ing more jobs.

Re­mem­ber the proper role of gov­ern­ment in the econ­omy is to pro­vide a sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment for growth with less intrusion as pos­si­ble in the mar­ket place.

Peter Sil­veira is Bar­rie’s Ward 5 coun­cil­lor.

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