BY DOMINICK NAGY
Ontario is set to break the record for the highest minimum wage ever in Canada’s history. The Liberal government has passed Bill 148 (Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017) which is set to raise the current minimum wage from $11.40 to $14 by 2018 ($2.60 added).
People look at the minimum wage as a way to better a particular group of individuals’ overall standard of living. By increasing the minimum wage, students and non-skilled workers can support themselves in a more monetary way.
The record used to belong to Alberta, having raised their minimum wage by $1.40 in Oct 2016. The province to the west is also set to increase their minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Reporters, economists and business specialists all speculate the increase of the minimum wage will force companies to lay off employees because they will not be able to afford the $2.60. That being said, reports and statistics, which compare unemployment graphs with an increase to minimum wage showcase no such correlation.
According to the Huffington Post, in Ontario alone, in each increase to minimum wage, statistics show that the unemployment line continues the same pattern and there is never an indication that it’s due to the fall or rise of minimum wage.
Canada’s highest unemployment rate was 13.10 per cent, which was in 1982. At the time eight provinces had increased minimum wage. The lowest was in 1966 and during that time 13 provinces had increased minimum wage. In October, trading economics, a visual data site reported that the unemployment rate went up 0.1 per cent.
Rich Stokes, owner of Oakville’s Comic Connection, believes the rapid increase in a short time makes it tougher to pay. He says it starts to make you think doing the job yourself would be more beneficial.
“The cost get passed on with customers. Well, we are a pretty small business, we never have a hard time hiring employees, having to pay them that much, it’s a little tougher.”
Stokes shares the same concern as Plato’s Closet owner Jill McChesney. “My 4,000 square foot store in Oakville, rent which isn’t cheap, hydro that went up, and with your payroll going up that quickly is what makes it difficult.”
Both store owners raise reasonable concerns about having to pay more for the rapid hike and believe that slowly having it going up would be more helpful and easy to prepare. Workers shouldn’t have to worry about about applying for work or fearing losing their jobs but to realize the impact it will have on small businesses.