Is­sues that fade from the agenda

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

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.

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