Fi­nan­cial watch­dog warns more than 50,000 job cuts could re­sult from wage hike In July, On­tario premier an­nounced plans to in­crease min­i­mum wage from $11.40 to $15 an hour by 2019

Truro Daily News - - CANADA -

More than 50,000 peo­ple could lose their jobs if the On­tario gov­ern­ment goes ahead with its plan to raise the min­i­mum wage to $15 an hour by 2019, the province’s fi­nan­cial watch­dog said Tues­day.

The job losses would be con­cen­trated among teens and young adults, while the num­ber of min­i­mum wage work­ers in On­tario would in­crease from just over 500,000 to 1.6 mil­lion in 2019, said a re­port re­leased by the province’s Fi­nan­cial Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice.

FAO chief econ­o­mist David West said On­tario is en­ter­ing “un­charted wa­ters” with the in­crease be­cause no other ju­ris­dic­tion has gone so far so quickly.

While the in­crease will have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the province’s to­tal labour mar­ket in­come — hik­ing it by 1.3 per cent — it will also re­sult in the job losses over a num­ber of years.

“There’s ev­i­dence to sug­gest th­ese job losses could be larger given the mag­ni­tude and rapid pace of this in­crease,” West said.

In July, Premier Kath­leen Wynne an­nounced her gov­ern­ment would in­crease the min­i­mum wage to $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2019. The in­crease would be phased-in grad­u­ally and would rise with in­fla­tion, as sched­uled, from $11.40 cur­rently to $11.60 in Oc­to­ber, to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018 and $15 the fol­low­ing year.

Labour Min­is­ter Kevin Flynn said that be­cause of the province’s strong econ­omy the gov­ern­ment can move for­ward with the min­i­mum wage in­crease. He pointed to stud­ies writ­ten in re­cent years by the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-oper­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment, the Center for Eco­nomic and Pol­icy Re­search and the Cana­dian Cen­tre for Pol­icy Al­ter­na­tives that sup­port the move.

“We don’t be­lieve that any­one in On­tario who works full time should be strug­gling to pay their rent, put food on their ta­bles or care for their fam­i­lies — es­pe­cially when the pro­vin­cial econ­omy is do­ing so well,” Flynn said in a state­ment.

Groups rep­re­sent­ing both small and large busi­nesses across On­tario have warned that the min­i­mum wage in­crease would lead to lay­offs. Karl Bal­dauf, spokesper­son for the Keep On­tario Work­ing Coali­tion, said the FAO re­port il­lus­trates why the gov­ern­ment should pro­ceed with cau­tion.

“(The gov­ern­ment) needs to con­duct an in­de­pen­dent eco­nomic anal­y­sis and they need to ad­just their plan de­pend­ing upon what that anal­y­sis proves to them,” he said.

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