I am writing in response to the Aug. 16 guest column by Vaughn Hammond (“$15-per-hour minimum wage proposal flawed”). I feel it’s important to rebut some arguments made in this article and correct some inaccuracies.
Hammond argues that tax cuts would be better for those of us who make the least in our society versus increasing their wages. This is not surprising in the least, as business interest groups are hard-wired to resist anything that would threaten the bottom line of those they represent. On the surface, this sounds harmless, but what we know from experience and research is that this is simply untrue.
In Ontario, for example, minimum-wage workers would have done better with their proposed raise than they did with tax cuts. Also, tax cuts are a one off — it is tough to tell your landlord you’ll pay them rent when the tax returns come out, but people need money now to afford to live in this province.
The fear tactics will only increase as the pressure mounts to raise the wage.
Minimum-wage earners also pay very little tax as it is, so the impact of their return is minimal, unlike the proven impact of increasing wages for those who are the most vulnerable in our economy. This impact continues to be shared with the dozens and dozens of research papers and studies that show raising the wage is not the apocalyptic event that the business and employer lobby groups make it out to be. The sky is not falling, it is lifting throughout Canada where employers and governments have invested in their most valuable resource — workers.
Hammond claims poverty is decreasing. This would be good news if the research and narrative coming out of the province supported it. We can always do more to reduce economic inequality and the myriad of research and experience in jurisdictions that have raised the wage show it to be an effective tool to raise people out of poverty.
Hammond goes on to fear-monger about closing child care facilities, in the face of such a tactic. I will note our province faces a child care shortage that can only be solved by increasing funding and resources to this sector. Early childhood educators play a vital role in our children’s lives and should be paid according to that importance. If you have ever dropped off a child to daycare and picked them up, you know these educators are the experts you trust with what is most precious.
I do agree with Hammond’s argument that the government should do research on the impact of raising the minimum wage. I am confident the results would clearly point to the multitude of benefits that raising the wage would have, not only on those who make the least, but on our province as a whole, like it has elsewhere.
The fear tactics will only increase as the pressure mounts to raise the wage. Please look past the doom and gloom and look at the research and lived experience elsewhere.
It’s time to raise the wage. We won’t stop until the job is done.
15 and Fairness—NL
Chair, Common Front NL