Thursday, January 25, 2007

A suggestion for Ontario's minimum wage

Cheri DiNovo, NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park, has been spearheading an increase in the Ontario minimum wage to $10 an hour. The current wage is due to go from $7.75 to $8.00, an increase of 3.2%, on February 1st subject to certain exclusions. I am a bit wary of the round number of $10 since like the publishing of public service salaries over $100,000 it tends to be worth less over time and might take a while to edge up again - instead it should be linked at least to the Consumer Price Index.

I also note that in the U.S. there are moves to increase the Federal minimum, which is popular in many states since those states already exceed both the existing and in some cases the new federal floor, although it has run into trouble in the Senate. In Ireland the rate is C$12.68 with some exclusions.

The Liberal government, who just raised MPPs salary's by $22,000 annually (2,750 hours at minimum rates just for the increase!) opposes this and bloggers duly went to bat, with Jason Cherniak's hamhanded defence of the McGuinty position leading many including myself to pile on. However, my concern is that McGuinty will not want to give the NDP a win and especially one to an MPP sitting in what used to be Gerard Kennedy's seat. With Marilyn Churley openly talking about a run on the federal seat in the Beaches and the likes of Giambrone and Perks in City Hall the yellowing of southern Toronto must be worrying federal and provincial Liberals alike.

I'd like to offer a compromise. Of particular concern to me is the number of people living on the minimum but who don't work 40 hours a week - instead working 8 hours here, 6 hours there. I would propose essentially splitting the difference for a 40 hour week worker - the first 20 hours at $10/hr and the next 20 at the existing $8.

This gives a substantial increase and is a disincentive to employers who dribble out hours here and there forcing people, especially single parents, to work multiple jobs involving multiple commutes and loss of family time. Surely the Liberals must realise the folly of their meagre raises to date especially given the need to break the welfare trap and given that John Tory is moving (obliquely to avoid alienating his paymasters) to highlight McGuinty's discomfort.
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