As health care providers news of the increase in minimum wage is important – as we stated in 2013, poverty is the second leading cause of death in this country.
While we have to applaud the government for finally promising to index the minimum wage to the cost of living – the legislation to do so has yet to be introduced – the reality is the adjusted rate simply didn’t go far enough. Even at $11 an hour, the wage is still 16 per cent below the poverty level for an individual who works full-time. And in Ontario there are a lot of people in that boat – the rate doubling since 2003 to 9 per cent of jobs in the province.
Kathleen Wynne told the CBC this morning that she was balancing the demands of anti-poverty groups with those of business, who warned that $14 an hour would lead to a loss of jobs. She said the government can use other means to help Ontarians get out of poverty, including the child benefit.
No doubt the business elites would be happy to have others pay the freight so that they can continue to pay workers a very low rate of pay while reaping significant rates of return for their shareholders. A low minimum wage essentially means we are willing to subsidize very profitable corporations so they can continue paying workers well below their true value. That includes increased health care costs.
More than a third of all minimum wage earners are working in the fast food industry. So how are these corporations doing?