Canada What’s missing in the debate over Ontario’s minimum wage

02:11  06 january  2018
02:11  06 january  2018 Source:   Maclean's

Minimum wage hikes could cost Canada's economy 60,000 jobs this year

  Minimum wage hikes could cost Canada's economy 60,000 jobs this year Minimum wage hikes across Canada this year could cost about 60,000 jobs, the Bank of Canada warns in a new report.The central bank published a report over the winter break, attempting to calculate what sort of economic impact a series of minimum wage hikes set to come into force this year will have on Canada's economy.

A company trying to capitalize on the province' s proposed minimum wage hike by urging restaurants to replace employees with less expensive automated machines has sparked debate among industry watchers.

Debate more heated over Ontario ’ s minimum wage with changes just around the corner. As those with lower incomes spend more of what they earn than do those with higher incomes, raising the minimum wage could play a role in economic revival,” it says.

a group of people standing in front of a store: (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)© Used with permission of / © Rogers Media Inc. 2018. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

This month, the government of Ontario raised the minimum wage to $14 an hour, up from $11.60. Wages will rise again, to $15, in January 2019. The Liberal government announced the changes months ago and immediately provoked a debate over how much workers should be paid, how much businesses can afford to pay them, and whether the policy itself was effective at redistributing income or, at least, helping vulnerable workers make ends meet. This week, the debate was given a couple of faces and names when the owners of two Tim Hortons coffee shops in Cobourg sent their employees a letter informing them that they would be passing along the increased operating costs. Paid breaks were done for. Employees were now required to pay half of the cost of their medical and health benefits.

Tim Hortons franchisees bully employees: Wynne

  Tim Hortons franchisees bully employees: Wynne TORONTO - The premier of Ontario is accusing the children of Tim Hortons' billionaire co-founder of bullying their employees by reducing their benefits in response to the province's increased minimum wage. In a letter to workers at two Tim Hortons restaurants in Cobourg, Ont., Ron Joyce Jr. and Jeri Horton-Joyce said that as of Jan. 1, staff would no longer be entitled to paid breaks, and would have to pay a portion of the costs for dental and health benefits to offset the $2.40 jump in the hourly minimum wage. Premier Kathleen Wynne says if Joyce Jr. wants to challenge the Ontario government policy, he should come directly to her and not take it out on his workers.

Or does raising the minimum wage result in real and tangible benefits to the economy? What the Right says: Higher wages = fewer jobs. The right-leaning Fraser Institute is the latest think tank to weigh-in on Ontario ’ s minimum wage debate , which has been raging since Premier Kathleen Wynne

Two experts debate . Armine Yalnizyan and Dan Kelly face off over the Liberals' proposal to raise the minimum wage to by 2019. And here' s what I'm told they'll do if the minimum wage goes up to in Ontario : 35 per cent will cut hiring youth/inexperienced workers, 26 per cent will reduce hours

The move by Ron Joyce Jr. and Jeri Horton-Joyce, the owners, became a flashpoint. Two restaurants do not a revolution-in-waiting make, nor are they necessarily a harbinger of what is to come from other business. But there was symbolism at work: This was two wealthy bosses sending a cold, semi-apologetic letter to their minimum wage employees, informing them of an effective pay cut—from their winter home in Florida. It had a rather “Let them eat Timbits” air to it. More to the point, the letter brought the debate’s human element—and thus its political element—into plain sight.

That was appropriate. The minimum wage debate is first and foremost about human beings. It is a debate about what we owe one another, what we expect from one another, what we value about one another and how much we value it, and what we are okay taking from and doing to one another. These questions comprise the moral or ethical bit of what is sometimes imagined as merely a technical debate about which levers to pull or buttons to push to make the free market work—cold conversations about the economy, just the facts. But debates about economic policy are political debates. They are bound up in social relations, which is to say, relations of power and authority.

In a fight over minimum wage at Tim Hortons, the worker loses

  In a fight over minimum wage at Tim Hortons, the worker loses With both Tim Hortons franchisees and the company’s head office refusing to absorb the costs of higher wages, front-line workers are paying the price by having their benefits cut.

The living wage is calculated based on what one must earn in order to aord a decent quality of life. Given the current politicized nature of the minimum wage debate , the auth-ors also evaluate the merit of In 2011, a full 40% of all minimum wage workers in Ontario were adults over the age of 25.

MORE: In a fight over minimum wage at Tim’s, the worker loses

The late Marxist historian Ellen Meiksins Wood reminds us that at some point in our history we separated the “economic” and “political” spheres from one another. We granted the former, as capitalism, special status as untouchable received wisdom—and then we forgot that we’d done so. It all became rather obvious to us that this was the ways things were and the way things should be. But the economic sphere is political, not just technical, or worse, an extension of natural philosophy.

We cannot and should not try to separate economic expertise—theories, models, evidence, facts, and figures—from the debate about the minimum wage. But in a democracy in which we have scarce resources to divide and in which we disagree about who the experts are, what the theories, models, evidence, facts, and figures imply, and what we ought to do, there is no right, wrong, good, bad, accurate, inaccurate, or anything before the political process by which we decide what we agree on and how we want to live together. As my former doctoral supervisor, Mark E. Warren, would put it: “science has no pre-political authority.” No matter what the external status of facts and trust—what experts say, what data suggests—political discussion and debate are how we establish our shared reality.

By the numbers: How much will the minimum wage hike cost Tim Hortons?

  By the numbers: How much will the minimum wage hike cost Tim Hortons? The Great White North Franchisee Association says the minimum wage increase will cost the average Tim Hortons franchise $243,889.10 a year Here’s a closer look at the numbers provided by the association, which says on its website it represents 50 per cent of the Tim Hortons chain in Canada. The figure is based on a minimum wage increase of $2.40 an hour The calculation assumes the $2.40 increase will be applied to every worker’s salary. Only employees who were making the previous minimum wage, $11.60 an hour, are legally entitled to the new rate, $14. Some businesses have said the higher rate will inflate their entire payroll because they want to maintain pay differentials between newer hires and more senior staff. The $2.40 rate is bumped up to $3.35 an hour when other costs are factored in. GWNFA says this figure includes Canadian Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, Employee Health tax, workers’ compensation premiums, training costs, sick leave, and increased vacation pay. Increased vacation pay introduced by Bill 148 will only impact workers who have been with a company for five years or more. They will now be entitled to three weeks leave. Average number of employees at a Tim Hortons store: 35 Average increased cost for one full-time employee: $6,968.26 Divided by the hourly cost increase (of $3.35) per employee and a 52-week year, this figure suggests Tim Hortons employees work a 40-hour week.

OPINION: The Liberals want to implement a minimum wage , and while politicians and business types bicker over whether this is a good thing, John Michael McGrath grumbles that Seattleites may not know it, but their city has become a proxy battlefield in Ontario ’ s ongoing minimum wage wars.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said there are 'duelling economists' debating what the real impact of the wage hike will be. Ontario ' s minimum wage hike draws mixed reaction. How a minimum wage would affect Ontario . Don't Miss .

So, public debates, to begin, include two important sorts of considerations. First, there’s values, morality, and ethics, which we must consider when deciding on public policy if we want outcomes to reflect our preferences. And second, there’s expertise or technical knowledge, which we must consider if we want to produce effective policy that achieves the things we want. But each of those considerations takes place in the real world of politics.

MORE: Why a $15 minimum wage is good for business

There’s a third bit of public policy debate we must keep in mind: politics. Sometimes, political reality places constraints on what is possible despite what the “best” policy may be. Perhaps a guaranteed income is a better way to redistribute wealth than a minimum wage increase. But what if we can’t get a guaranteed income? Limits to political capital, public appetite for that sort of change, and other issues can make the “second-best” policy the right choice in some cases. In fact, this happens all the time; indeed, often, we’d be lucky to get second-best.

Economies exist to serve people. The people we talk about when discussing the minimum wage aren’t mere abstract units of analysis. They have agency, they have dignity, they have a right to self-govern. On top of that, the market system we live in is neither natural nor the perfect and spontaneous effect of “the invisible hand.” The market is a space of power, not some abstract, neutral platform, and sometimes what we as a people want or need comes into conflict with the economic orthodoxy that assumes otherwise. When it does, we have a right to decide to re-evaluate our priorities, challenge the experts and the data, and proceed to get the best policy possible.

Canada’s youth are the clear losers from a higher minimum wage

  Canada’s youth are the clear losers from a higher minimum wage Opinion: Entry-level jobs shape your character, if you can manage to gain entryRY

Ontario ' s business advocates are sounding the alarm over what they say could be massive job losses as the provincial government rolls out its aggressive minimum wage hike. Increasing the minimum wage to an hour over two years could result in 185

What ' s Working. The Quick Fix. Urban Wellness. Rabble notes that, at this pace, it would take until 2040 for Ontario to have a minimum wage . The debate over whether a minimum wage hike would help or hurt the economy continues unabated.

Not all values are or should be established and measured through a single lens. When we forget that—when we treat debates as merely abstract or technical problems to solve rather than as moral or ethical challenges to manage in the real world of politics—we undermine our democratic authority as a people. When we do that, we further cede our collective right to self-govern to technocrats and organized interests.

Our debate over how little a business can pay a worker is a debate about how we want to live together. It includes questions about what our values are, how we should organize our economy, how we expect markets will respond to changes, and how the political realities on the ground enable or constrain action. If we forget that there are layers to this debate, we risk forgetting one of the central purposes of democracy: protecting the dignity and equality of each citizen by letting the people decide how they wish to live together, whatever form that might take, based on whichever considerations they decide matter most to them.


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  • Why a $15 minimum wage is good for business
  • Minimum wage in Canada: By the numbers
  • Ontario to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour

Tims customers fight cutbacks at rallies .
TORONTO - Protesters who rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Ontario on Wednesday roasted some franchisees for slashing workers' benefits and breaks in an effort to compensate for the province's minimum wage hike, but many said their gripes would not derail their daily coffee runs. Those who gathered said they were worried staff would be negatively impacted if they boycotted to spite the small handful of franchisees — not necessarily the 16 locations that were targeted — who demanded workers cover a larger share of their dental and health-care benefits and take unpaid breaks to offset the 20 per cent raise to $14 an hour.

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