It’s nice that Doug Ford has decided to raise Ontario’s minimum wage to $15 an hour (it would have been a whole lot nicer if he hadn’t cancelled the very same thing almost four years ago), but his stated reasoning for doing so now makes no sense.
But the premier defended his previous pro-business stance of opposing a $15-an-hour minimum wage, saying it is “apples and oranges” due to fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everyone’s been facing a challenge in the last 20 months,” he said, insisting “things were a lot different in 2018” when he repealed his Liberal predecessor Kathleen Wynne’s law that mandated a $15 minimum wage as of Jan. 1, 2019.
If Wynne’s initiative had not been scrapped by Ford, the minimum wage would now be about $15.75 an hour.
“We’ve been in the trenches with the front-line workers. We’ve been in the trenches with the labour leaders,” the Progressive Conservative premier said.
What exactly is “a lot different” from a worker perspective since 2018 is kind of a mystery. Life didn’t magically become unaffordable for low income Ontarians when the pandemic hit. It was bad then, and it’s worse now. Worse enough that $15 isn’t going to mean a whole lot. It’s something, but what it most certainly is not is anything someone can reasonably be expected to live on. To be fair, the $15.75 those people would have had by now under the Liberal plan had Ford not decided to be an arse harp back then isn’t either, but it would have been more than what they’re getting now.
What’s different now from the business perspective is a little more obvious. Many of them have a lot less money to work with. Closures and capacity limits will do that sort of thing, which makes this a hell of a time to spring a surprise increase on them, Doug. I don’t say that as an excuse not to do it. I’m merely pointing out that the only thing that’s truly different now is the season. It’s election season, you see. And this is quite a blatant example of a party buying votes with other people’s money.
Doug Ford only has to care about underpaid workers until next June. After that, it’s back to business as usual. And you only need to look back to 2018 when things were somehow so much different to understand what that means.