FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 16, 2017
QUEEN’S PARK – During Question Period today, Opposition Leader Patrick Brown pointed out all three parties had previously agreed to take the politics out of minimum wage increases and provide predictability for business by agreeing to increase minimum wage by the consumer price index. That changed when Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the proposal for a $15 minimum wage on May 30.
“You’ve got TD Bank saying 90,000 jobs will be lost; you’ve got the chamber saying it’s much more than that,” Brown said in the Legislature. “We’re going to see low-income, vulnerable workers lose their jobs because the Premier refuses to have a reasonable phase-in.”
Today, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett and his Opposition colleagues put forward an amendment to the proposed labour legislation to extend the $15 rollout to January 1, 2022. This proposal was rejected by the government.
“Ontario deserves a minimum wage increase, but the Wynne Liberals are recklessly pushing forward with this hike as a ploy to buy votes,” said PC Labour Critic John Yakabuski. “Wynne’s plan will lead to massive job losses across the province. It will severely damage Ontario’s competitiveness, and it will make everything more expensive, including gas and groceries.”
Barrett, a 14-year member of the Finance Committee, where the motion was tabled, explained, “There are a huge number of jobs at risk with such a rapid increase in the minimum wage. However, the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis concluded the number at risk would decrease by 75 per cent if the minimum wage was increased over five years, instead of 14 months. A slightly slower rollout of the $15 minimum wage would get employees their pay increase, save the jobs and the businesses they work for.”
The Ontario PCs had previously announced that if elected, the increase of the minimum wage from $14/hour to $15/hour will be phased in over a four-year period. This means the minimum wage would increase by $0.25 each year over the PC mandate, starting in 2019 and reaching $15/hour on January 1, 2022.
Barrett also doesn’t think the cut in the corporate tax rate proposed by the government will help.
“This government just doesn’t get it,” Barrett said. “A one per cent cut in corporate tax won’t make a difference if a company ends up operating at a loss or closes its doors. Increasing minimum wage is just the tip of the iceberg, on top of high electricity rates and mountains of red tape.”
“The Fall Economic Statement is proof that the Liberals didn’t do their homework,” added Opposition Finance Critic Vic Fedeli. “Rather than slow down their minimum wage hike, they are just trying to throw more money at the problem. This band-aid will do nothing for a business with no income or employees left.”
Barrett has heard a steady string of concerns since the government announced the minimum wage increase. Outside of business, one of his concerns has been the most vulnerable in society – the people this bill purportedly is designed to help – will instead be its greatest victims. During Finance Committee hearings, Barrett and committee members heard from a business owner who employs challenged individuals. Those positions will be eliminated with the higher minimum wage. Barrett has heard from the family of a local person with disabilities who already lost his job due to the proposed wage hike. He is also concerned students may become victims of the bill.
The Haldimand-Norfolk MPP also pointed out the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement is an unknown factor in Ontario’s economy.
For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or [email protected]
ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Nov. 16, 2017
Mr. Patrick Brown: My question is for the Premier. I would like to read a quote. “In the past, political whim and government ideology has … driven minimum wage. … We have to bring in legislation to tie it to inflation and I hope we have the support of the other parties in the legislature. It is the fairest position that we could have taken.”
Mr. Speaker, can the Premier tell us who said that?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I think I might have said that. Mr. Speaker, I said it at a time when the economy was really in trouble, when we were recovering from the economic downturn. We made a decision about tagging the minimum wage to the inflation rate, and that’s exactly what we will do after we raise the minimum wage: $14 this January, $15—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We’ll move to warnings if we need to. That will be the next move.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: —$15 January 1, 2019, Mr. Speaker. The plan that the opposition has put forward, to roll back that minimum wage increase, is unfair. It does not recognize the reality that people—
Mr. John Yakabuski: That’s false. That’s false.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We’re in warnings. Thank you. And they’ll come quick.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: It does not recognize the reality that people in the province—although the province is doing very well economically, there are people who are struggling to get ahead.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Mr. Patrick Brown: Again to the Premier: I acknowledge the Premier’s consistently fighting a $15 minimum wage for years, when the NDP had proposed this. Now, what’s happened? Six months from an election—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Government House leader is warned.
Mr. Patrick Brown: Mr. Speaker, for years the Premier steadfastly fought a $15 minimum wage, and what happens? Six months before an election, she changes her tune. Let me share a more recent quote from the Premier on a $15 minimum wage. “This is a fair adjustment to the minimum wage and it gives businesses predictability.”
“It takes the decision out of the political whim.”
The Premier was fighting for business predictability against a $15 minimum wage. Can the Premier tell us …
(Mr. Patrick Brown)
… takes the decision out of a political whim.
The Premier was fighting for business predictability against a $15 minimum wage. Can the Premier tell us why all of a sudden she has changed her mind?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Unlike the Leader of the Opposition who is the leader of a party that froze the minimum wage for nine years, Mr. Speaker, I am part of a government that has increased the minimum wage year after year after year. I have never fought increases to the minimum wage. I have supported minimum wage increases.
When we made the decision to bump the minimum wage and to tag it to inflation, Mr. Speaker, we determined at that time that because the economy was not in good shape, we wouldn’t do that catch-up. That was something that was said to us, you know, that we should do a catch-up. At that time, we believed that that would not be responsible. But, Mr. Speaker, I have always believed that a minimum wage that was a living wage was important. That’s why we are putting in place a $15 minimum wage that that party would roll back.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock, please. Be seated, please. Thank you.
Mr. Patrick Brown: Again to the Premier. I’d appreciate that we don’t say false statements in the House, like a rollback that the Premier knows is absolutely false. But let me just say that the gist of my question is about this: You’ve got TD Bank saying 90,000 jobs will be lost; you’ve got the chamber saying it’s much more than that. We’re going to see low-income, vulnerable workers lose their jobs because the Premier refuses to have a reasonable phase-in.
The Premier actually said something else recently. This is the Premier of Ontario: “We really want to move away from an ad hoc system….We have to move very carefully because this is about making sure that we retain and create jobs.” This isn’t speaking against the NDP proposal for a living wage. So you have the Premier saying it will kill jobs and then all of a sudden she changes her mind.
If a year ago you think it killed jobs, why does the Premier think now that all of a sudden her previous statements don’t exist?
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. Be seated, please. Thank you.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Without the comments.
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, the economy in Ontario is doing very well. When we made a decision to tag the increases to the minimum wage to inflation, we were in a time when we were digging out of a recessionary hole. We’ve done that. At this moment, with the province doing as well as it is, it is only fair that everyone in this province, if they’re working 40 hours a week, shouldn’t have to go to the food bank. They should be able to look after themselves and their children. You’re either on the side of fairness or you’re not. You either believe that people should be able to feed themselves and their families, or you don’t. We believe people should be able to, and they apparently do not.