Put minimum wage hike on table

Posted on in Debates

TheStar.com – opinion/Readers’ Letters – Re: Infrastructure key to Wynne restoring faith in Liberals, Oct. 6
Oct 09, 2013.   Peter Clutterbuck / R. Scott Marsh / Ken Caudle

It is discouraging to read Premier Kathleen Wynne’s assertion that a “major hike” in the minimum wage is “off the table.”

Ever ready to converse, consult and discuss options like the future of wind turbines with Ontarians before making definitive policy statements, the Premier doesn’t hesitate to be declarative on minimum wage policy even though she has a panel of experts touring the province to consult with the public on the issue.

The evidence for a strong social justice position on the minimum wage is stronger than for the pros and cons of wind turbines. Currently, a full-time, full-year worker on minimum wage earns more than $1,000 below the province’s official poverty line. How can the “social justice” Premier morally justify that disparity so quickly?

The Premier missed the opportunity presented by the question in Simcoe to educate the larger public about the inadequacy and injustice of current minimum wage policy and to commit her government to a basic minimum wage above poverty as a social justice priority.

Peter Clutterbuck, Poverty Free Ontario, Toronto

Wynn cool to raising minimum wage to $14, Oct. 8

Our seen-to-be-doing-something premier has got herself on the wrong side of the issue. She eagerly defends her fat-cat friends at the Pan Am games and their salary bonuses (“Wynne backs Pan Am’s $7M bonuses for executives,” Oct. 8) while 9 per cent of all Ontario workers toil at the minimum wage level (having skyrocketed from 4.3 per cent in 2003) of $10.25 per hour.

Oh, she is doing something — the Liberals appointed a panel last summer to study how best to set future minimum wage increases. We don’t need more study. We need prompt and meaningful action. If you’re not prepared to do something, please call an election and let’s get someone in who can.

R. Scott Marsh, Oakville

My perception of Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak is one of negativity. He announces that he will oppose ideas before the government even announces them. He hates unions — he seems to have them directly in his crosshairs.

But, there are only three participants in the labour market: government, workers and businesses. If business was in complete control of the working environment it’s hard to believe that conditions would be any different than those of garment workers in Bangladesh.

When business had total control of the show, before union and government involvement, we had child labour, 12-hour days, no holidays, no pensions, no decent pay, no benefits, and no health and safety protection. Surely Mr. Hudak doesn’t want to go back to those days. Does he?

Mr. Hudak wants to eliminate the effectiveness of unions and he certainly understands that most businesses are only interested in the bottom line. This only leaves governments to defend the interests of Ontario’s workers.

So here’s your chance, Mr. Negativity. We are told that there are at least 800.000 people in the GTA using food banks. Children, like your young daughter, are going to bed hungry every night. How can you, the father of a young child, accept that? How you ensure your daughter has a full tummy before going to bed but you simply don’t seem to care that other young kids go crying to bed with empty stomachs.

If Mr. Hudak was to initiate a proposal to increase the minimum wage he would make a giant step towards ensuring there are fewer hungry children. People would have more money to spend. Businesses would benefit from more sales. Governments would benefit from more taxes.

Mr. Hukak might shed some of his aura of negativity and people might even begin to look at him as a real leader. Seems like a win-win situation for everyone. But, I’m sure Mr. Negativity will see something he doesn’t like in the idea. That’s why he’s Mr. Negativity.

Ken Caudle, Brampton

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