Fraser Institute starts with conclusions.

As any experienced writer can tell you, the toughest challenge is to write a report to a predetermined conclusion. This is also why knowledgeable readers are often skeptical of Fraser Institute reports. It seems as though the institute only pays for reports that favour its right-wing stance.

There was therefore new hope the other day to read one of their reports that was purported to be an analysis of why both the Liberals and Tories in Ontario were wrong on their minimum wage stance. The authors were listed as Charles Lamman and Hugh MacIntyre of institute staff.

The report started by zeroing in on the Liberal government’s approach. There were the typical arguments about lost employment and fewer benefits and fewer hours but little recognition of alternatives such as skills upgrading opportunities offered by the government. The dollars and ‘sense’ of this issue goes far beyond the cold mathematics and cruel assumptions.

The reality today in Ontario is what this report seems to ignore. You have to start with what it costs for food, shelter, clothing and transportation. A minimum wage of less than a living wage is not only cruel but it is designed to keep people at that level. A business that has to rely on its employees working at below a living wage is not a business that we should welcome in our communities. We already make exceptions for the teenagers getting some work experience outside of school hours. That is not how we should pay adults with family responsibilities.

The researchers at least admit that Doug Ford’s PC minimum wage platform is wrong-headed and shows a dreadful lack of knowledge about the provincial tax structure and reality. Ford’s proposal that the minimum be left at $14 per hour and then increase with inflation is an attempt to keep Ontario’s minimum wage workers at below the poverty line.

The Fraser Institute writers further confuse the issue of minimum wage by mixing it with a discussion of a guaranteed minimum income program. While a guaranteed minimum is a desirable direction, Canadians need to understand the privacy they would have to forego, if they opted for that approach. People look to their work and their families for fulfillment in life. Money is not always the first priority.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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