Issues that fade from the agenda
The many minimum wage earners ought to be thrilled that their lot has, for at least a few fleeting moments, become an issue in the Ontario provincial election campaign. Although he is well off himself, Doug Ford, who seems destined to become the next Premier, claims that he feels the pain of the masses. But he is not about to go through with the Liberals’ plan to further hike the minimum wage next year.
The Progressive Conservative party leader promises to give a tax credit to minimum wage earners, a plank that Liberals have dismissed as being “pure snake oil.” You will recall that the governing Liberals increased the minimum wage from $11.60 to $14 an hour January 1, 2018 and intends to increase it to $15 January 1, 2019.
But Mr. Ford argues that everyone would be better off, not with a further wage hike, but with a tax break. Under a PC government, a person making $14 an hour would get an annual tax break of $800.
Yet, Liberals counter, most minimum wage earners already don’t pay taxes and those who do would still be better off with a $15 hour wage.
Since the wage hike law was introduced, as part of the Fair Wages, Better Workplaces Act, fears over the long-term adverse impacts of higher wages have reached hysterical levels. Critics have been warning that because of heavier payrolls, every employer, including municipalities, farmers, and small businesses, will go belly up.
The government has maintained that the province's economy will benefit because the poorly paid will have more disposable income.
As the government has stressed on several occasions, no one working full time should be struggling to put food on the table or buy clothing for their children. Increasing the minimum wage will create more fairness, opportunity and security for workers, while building a more stable and sustainable economy that also includes fair workplaces for everyone, the government has contended.
The new law would help a large percentage of the populace, and electorate -- 30 per cent of workers make less than $15 an hour. Yet, who is to pay for these laudable and expensive measures? And who is to pay for Doug Ford’s promised tax break? Look in the mirror, folks. This is an opportune time for the ordinary folks to try to get their issues onto the public agenda. While we all have our personal priorities, collectively, we also have more general concerns that deserve attention.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario offers advice to taxpayers who might encounter candidates in the June provincial election.
You might want to clip and save the following AMO statement, and present it if and when a candidate solicits your support in person. Here is the AMO’s statement. “Municipal governments own most public infrastructure and deliver critical services that we all depend on every day. And they do it with the smallest share of tax dollars. Ask your candidate what they would do to make municipal government stronger and more affordable.
“Municipal governments collect only nine per cent of all tax dollars.
“Practical changes by the province would stretch our tax dollars and help municipal governments deliver many services more efficiently and affordably.
“Police and fire compensation should increase at rates that other municipal employees can relate to. This alone would save about $100 million a year.