同時，新民主黨領袖賀華絲(Andrea Horwath)應該承諾支持調高最低工資，就算自由黨選擇類似Sorbara在2007年預算案中分三年調整工資的模式。新民主黨的支持極為重要，因為保守黨領袖胡達克(Tim Hudak)反對任何調整工資。
像胡達克一樣，很多商界領袖和右翼智庫的經濟學者，如Fraser Institute ，強烈反對調高最低工資，他們投訴這會傷害安省在全國和全球的競爭力，以及會減低創造新工作的速度，特別是初級職位。
一篇觀點強而有力題為《醫生的命令：提高最低工資, Doctor’s orders: raise the minimum wage》的文章，最先在網站healthydebate.ca 發表，繼而在社交媒體流傳。多倫多家庭醫生Ritika Goel強調，研究顯示健康問題在低工資和高收入者之間的巨大差異。
An urgent call for a $14-an-hour minimum wage: Hepburn
Increasing Ontario’s basic pay is a fair and just way to help poorest-paid workers in the province.
By: Bob Hepburn Politics, Published on Wed Jan 15 2014
On March 22, 2007, Ontario’s then-finance minister Greg Sorbara took a bold step toward helping Ontario’s poor workers by tabling a provincial budget that raised the minimum wage to $10.25 an hour.
The move came as a surprise because Sorbara, who has since retired from elected politics, had spent the months before the budget telling Ontarians that employers couldn’t afford any increase in the minimum wage, then pegged at $8 an hour, and that any raise would put thousands of low-paid jobs at risk.
But in deciding to raise the basic pay Sorbara helped hundreds of thousands of workers across the province and solidified his reputation as one of the most caring finance ministers Ontario has had in decades.
“We take these steps in the firm belief that Ontario’s new economic strength must provide fairly for working people,” Sorbara said in his budget speech.
“The government recognizes that periodic increases in the minimum wage are an important part of helping those with low incomes,” he added in the detailed budget papers accompanying the speech.
Since 2010, the government has frozen the minimum wage. That’s despite the fact that inflation has risen about 10 per cent in the last four years, with many costs such as electricity rates increasing even higher.
Last July, rather than doing the right thing and pledging to boost wages, Premier Kathleen Wynne deployed a common political stalling tactic and appointed a six-person panel to look at minimum wages.
Instead of continue to wait and dither, Wynne needs to help the working poor now. These workers are falling further and further behind. Instead of freezing their pay, they need wages that provide a better standard of living than they now get for their long hours of work, even if it is only a few dollars an hour.
To do so, Wynne and current Finance Minister Charles Sousa should raise the minimum wage to $14 an hour, effective in their coming March budget.
At the same time, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath should pledge to support an increase, even if the Liberals opt to phase it in over three years as Sorbara did in his 2007 budget. NDP support is critical because Conservative Leader Tim Hudak opposes any increase at this time. Like Hudak, some business leaders and economists from right-wing think-tanks such as the Fraser Institute strongly oppose raising the rate, complaining it would hurt Ontario’s ability to compete nationally and globally and would actually slow the rate of jobs being created, especially entry-level positions.
That argument is flawed, though, because most minimum-wage jobs are in construction or service industries, such as hotels and restaurants, and can’t be shipped off to countries where workers earn a fraction of what Ontario employers pay.
The argument in favour of a $14-an-hour wage is simple: it’s a fair and just way to help the poorest workers in the province.
Currently, some 500,000 Ontario workers earn the minimum wage of $10.25. That’s one out of every nine workers in the province. Many of them must work two or three jobs just to pay the rent and buy food for themselves and their families. At $10 an hour, a worker putting in a full 40 hours on the job earns $20,800 a year, before taxes and payroll deductions. That’s right near the poverty line.
However, many low-paid jobs, such as cleaning and store clerks, offer only part-time work. That’s not enough to lift these workers out of poverty.
In recent months, anti-poverty activists and organizations have stepped up efforts to convince Wynne to end the freeze and boost the minimum wage to $14 an hour.
At Queen’s Park on Tuesday, a group of doctors and health-care providers made impassioned pleas for a higher wage, citing research showing that low-wage workers suffer more illnesses and injuries than other workers. And in a powerful opinion article titled “Doctor’s orders: raise the minimum wage” that first appeared on the website healthydebate.ca and spread wildly through social media, Toronto family physician Ritika Goel cited research showing huge differences in health issues between low-wage and high-income earners.
“Do we want to live in a society where we accept that people living in poverty will have a higher risk of losing their children, getting cancer and taking their own lives than those who have more?” Goel wrote.
“Comforting words and prescriptions might help, but at the end of the day, what we need is systemic change. It’s time to prescribe something that works: an increase in the minimum wage.”
Clearly, Ontario’s working poor need the government’s help now. They have waited four years since the minimum wage was last raised and with each passing year they slip further behind. It’s time to end their wait.
As Greg Sorbara said in 2007, it’s only fair. Bob Hepburn’s column appears Thursday. email@example.com