Minimum wage hike a necessity and must be preserved

TheStar.com – Opinion/Contributors
Oct. 1, 2018.   By

Today, nearly two million people in Ontario will put in a hard day’s work for little money. Their paycheques won’t even cover the basic necessities, so they will likely have to deny themselves and their children of items such as healthy food, medicine, new shoes or books for school — things many of us take for granted.

These are the minimum wage workers. Whether they’re serving your morning coffee, driving your children to school or taking care of them afterward, they are doing everything they can to contribute to society — and also survive in it.

Low-wage work and precarious employment are blights on our province. While our economy chugs along, hard-working people are being left behind — left to struggle below the poverty line despite having a full-time job.

Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, helped alleviate this. It raised the minimum wage to $14 an hour, with a further raise to $15 coming Jan. 1. It also provided workers with paid sick days, ensured that part-time and temporary workers were paid the same hourly rate as a full-time worker doing the same job, prevented workers from being misclassified as independent contractors, made scheduling more fair and made it easier for some of our most vulnerable workers to unionize.

The foundation for this long overdue legislation was the belief that anyone who works 35 to 40 hours a week shouldn’t have to struggle to make ends meet. It was built upon the fundamental belief that every worker in Ontario deserves a decent wage and fair working conditions.

Unfortunately, not everyone in Ontario believes this. Many business leaders have been against it since Day 1, and continue to lobby their friends at Queen’s Park to freeze the minimum wage and repeal Bill 148. They’re making millions while denying workers their fair share.

Yes, the increase in the minimum wage has been difficult for some, and I will admit the previous government didn’t do enough to help small businesses through the transition. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing to do.

Bill 148 was more than a piece of legislation. It was also a purposeful shift intended to help rebalance the relationship between employer and employee. No longer would workers be seen as an expense; they would be viewed as an asset.

There are many businesses in Ontario that are successful and growing because they embrace this idea. They understand that giving low-wage workers a raise not only changes lives for the better, it also injects more money into local economies.

The new government must understand this, as well.

For the sake of workers and our economy, Bill 148 must be maintained as is and the minimum wage must go up to $15 an hour as planned. Doing otherwise will be a disaster for the millions of workers who make our province great, and for their families who rely on them.

Michael Speers was the senior communications adviser for Ontario’s minister of labour.

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2018/10/01/minimum-wage-hike-a-necessity-and-must-be-preserved.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *