Up With Minimum Wage, Down With Small Business!


Credit: Ashley Prescott (Beating Mediocrity)

In a desperate attempt to save face in the midst of plummeting support for the Wynne Administration for utter fiscal incompetence, Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne goes all-in and decimates everyone’s purchasing power under the illusion of equality.
For those of us who don’t see themselves shackled to the growth of other people’s businesses and want to take the leap in starting up something of their own will now face greater barriers to entry with the rolling out of the recent Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.  On June 5, 2017, in true-to-form campaign style, Premiere Wynne officially announced that there will be a 31.5%  increase over the next two years to Ontario’s minimum wage; raising the cost of unskilled/entry-level labour from $11.40  to $15.00 per hour - the highest of all provinces. And that’s in addition to mandatory compensation for last-minute shift cancellation - which has been defined as ‘within 48 hours’ - and equal pay for both part-time and full-time workers. 
The Canadian Press reports the changing landscape of today’s workplace makes these new labour laws necessary, going on to state, “... new technology, a shrinking manufacturing sector, and fewer union jobs, among other factors, have left approximately one-third of Ontario’s 6.6 million workers vulnerable.” But one can’t turn a blind eye to the political ploy meant to attract votes from the same vulnerable workers come next year’s provincial election.
For years, Premier Wynne has been battling bad press for her astonishing bad decision-making. Everything from the 2016 leaked cabinet documents  scandal that would’ve seen the cost to heat the average Ontario home skyrocket to over $2000 per year in favour of greener energy alternatives, to the new carbon tax slapped on all manufactured goods,  have resulted in anything but growth in small businesses across Ontario who are the most sensitive to these kinds of changes.

“We are shocked and appalled that the government is broadsiding small business owners with a 32 percent increase in the minimum wage within only one-and-a-half years,” said Julie Kwiecinski, a director with The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB). 
“Small businesses, who don’t share the larger profit margins of big business, will be forced to make difficult choices, including cutting hours and jobs.”

The Keep Ontario Working Coalition warned that these kinds of changes will lead to “unintended consequences, including job losses, rising consumer costs, and economic hardship.”
Jackie Fraser, a local food purveyor who leads a staff of twelve in Fergus, Ont, is one example of thousands who will likely have to make those kinds of decisions in order to keep their doors open. While Fraser admits to understanding the reasoning behind the wage increase, the tight timeline for implementation causes her the most concern. In a recent Toronto Sun online article, the family business owner has professed to have considered everything from eliminating slow-moving products and being closed one day a week, to shifting the focus of her business entirely to catering - which requires less staff - just to meet the new wage demands. 
“All things are on the table,” Fraser says. 
Times have certainly changed. In the spirit of scoring political points for the facade of economic equality in a capitalized nation, small businesses must suffer the brunt of the Liberal government’s ‘New Order’ agenda to redefine minimum-wage jobs as an actual career option; where one can earn enough to support themselves and/or a family, not as an entry-level position meant to gain work experience in order to qualify for something better.