Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli says he’s getting numerous emails from families and businesses over the impact a higher minimum wage will have. Fedeli says many people are realizing they might not have a job when the minimum wage goes to $14 an hour next January and then $15 a year later. He says the Wynne Liberals have ignored third party reports saying a sudden spike in the minimum wage will cost tens of thousands of jobs. Fedeli says while he doesn’t oppose wage hikes, he’s against how the increase is being implemented. He says it should be phased in. To counter the effect of a higher minimum wage, Fedeli says some shop owners are replacing employees with self-serve checkouts or installing ordering kiosks. He expects this trend to rise.
However in response, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn says self-checkout counters have been in place for years and have nothing to do with next January’s rise in the minimum wage. Flynn also notes that these machines help generate new jobs since they have to be made and installed. As for the reports citing thousands of layoffs once hourly rates climb to $14 and $15 an hour, Flynn again disagrees. He says 54 economists, some of them Nobel prize winners, signed a document telling the Liberals the government is on the right track. Flynn also points out that the doom and gloom stories about lost jobs are nothing new and go back to the 1970s when the minimum wage first went up. He says the reality is more jobs were generated back then. Flynn says it used to be that the minimum wage covered a student or trainee’s salary or the wages of a person on probation. But the minister says times have changed and nowadays many people are trying to raise families on less than $12 an hour. He says it’s not enough, adding he doesn’t care what Progressive Leader Patrick Brown or Fedeli say “if you work 35 or 40 hours a week in Ontario, you shouldn’t be living in poverty”.