Horwath toe-tests minimum wage.

It would be great to have a real left-wing political party in Ontario. This is not a promise to support the party but it would be great for voters to just have the option. And if you think Andrea Horwath and her Ontario New Democrats are going to answer the call, you might as well forget it.

After North Toronto’s Premier Kathleen Wynne bravely promised to raise the minimum wage to $11 an hour several weeks ago, we assumed that Horwath and her team were gathering their skirts to wage war. They finally offered the New Democrat alternative and it is not what you might expect. While the Liberal plan was to adjust the rate based on the consumer price index—to make sure the poor stay poor—the New Democrats had to be different. Horwath announced that the $11 an hour would be great but needs to be raised 50 cents per year for the next two years—with or without the agreement of the consumer price index.

And you would be wise not to ask what Conservative Leader Tim Hudak thinks—nobody is sure he can.

What the Liberals and New Democrats are doing is a disgrace. They are thumbing their noses at the experts who suggest that the minimum wage in Ontario should be at least $14 per hour to keep workers above the poverty line. And even then, the experts tell you that the person needs to work full-time. Too many of the minimum wage jobs in Ontario offer just part-time hours.

Politicians will tell you that they are being lobbied by supposed “small business” interests that cannot sustain themselves at a fair wage rate. The politicians are afraid of losing those jobs. They should not be. Any business running that close to the line has a bad business plan, should not be in business and we will be better off without them.

The greatest insult in all of this is that the New Democrats think they will help matters by lowering the small business tax rate further. When the supposed left-wing politicians are more worried about the earnings of small business investors than the wages of the impoverished, we have something topsy-turvy in this province.

Andrea Horwath would have won more plaudits and maybe the premier’s job if she had the guts to demand an immediate increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Now that would make for an interesting election campaign!

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Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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