Opinion

Merriam: Minimum wage hike ripples far, wide, deep

By Jim Merriam, Special to Postmedia Network

Postmedia Network file photo

Postmedia Network file photo

Readers aren’t reluctant to shine a spotlight on issues related to the minimum wage hike in Ontario.

One reader suggests seniors have been forgotten yet again. Often living on limited incomes, they are “affected by the increased price for goods and services directly related to the wage hike.”

The reader said she has written Premier Kathleen Wynne several times asking for the plan to protect seniors living on the edge of poverty from rising costs.

“Not surprisingly, she has not answered the question.”

Another forgotten segment of the population, those facing challenges, are a concern for some parents.

“We have spent our lives getting our son to the point of independence where he can live comfortably and happily on his own.”

The son’s provincial disability payments, along with his two part-time jobs, allow him to live in a safe, decent apartment where “we feel we are leaving him in a good place.”

He has been employed at one of his jobs for more than 12 years and “he loves it.”

The number of shifts a week can fluctuate widely. The store has only so many hours to give, and some months those hours have to go to employees doing other tasks.

The son’s disability income from government goes up when his employment income drops.

“Our question is, how is it advantageous to the government if it has to pay more . . . social support payments to probably thousands of people, who have either lost their minimum wage jobs or have their hours greatly reduced due to the increased minimum wage?

“If higher wages mean fewer hours, how does the change benefit the taxpayers who funds this support program?”

Another reader argued potential substantial job losses due to the wage increase will mean employees remaining will have to do the work of those who were fired. 

Yet, in all the brouhaha about rich Tim Horton’s heirs in Florida cutting paid breaks, no one mentioned projected job cuts.

No one thought to ask those employees whether they’d rather have “no paid breaks, or no paid jobs.”

Another reader mentioned the millions of dollars that will fall into government coffers from increased income tax deductions as a result of this wage increase.

Another reader agreed some small businesses will juggle hours of employees so the increase won’t help the worker, but the businesses will be able to survive.

No one seems to realize the extras small businesses have to pay including taxes, upkeep, utilities, insurance.

“Hard to make any profit.” 

Another reader predicted that in a few years, organized labour will be pushing for a $20 minimum wage.

“It reminds me of a dog chasing its tail.”

The final word goes to a reader who wrote, “Every one of our local businesses would be happy to pay their minimum wage employees $20 an hour or maybe even $25, as long as it didn’t have to come from somewhere. Much like the Liberals’ budget.”

jimmerriam@hotmail.com