This weekend, NDP leader Tom Mulcair announced another part of his plan to NDP-ify Canada, should he win the next election. He plans to re-instate the Federal Minimum Wage and push it all the way up to 15$ an hour by 2019.
The Liberal Party abolished the Federal Minimum Wage in 1996, during the Chretien era. Now, why would they do that? Shouldn’t they support a basic minimum wage? Well, they do support it; they just find it’s better when the provinces legislate the wages themselves. At the time of its abolition, the Federal Minimum Wage only applied to employees of federally controlled bodies who are currently on the same pay scale as everyone else in their province. Mulcair’s proposal will follow the same parameters. I suppose this proves that workers in federally regulated industries are “distinct” from the rest of us.
Remember, the Minimum Wage refers to the base rate of Canadian salaries, as currently governed by the provinces. The rates range from a low of $10 in New Brunswick and the North West Territories to a high of $11 in Ontario and Nunavut. Mulcair wants to start the Federal Minimum Wage at $12 if we give his party the chance to form a government, instead of “a government in waiting.” There are conflicting opinions in the field of economics as to whether or not a higher minimum wage is actually beneficial in the end. A higher minimum wage may leave business less inclined to hire. Ontario, which just raised its minimum wage in June, is finding that out the hard way, since hiring seems to have slowed.
Bloomberg Businessweek argues that increasing the minimum wage will not resolve the deeper problems that the poor face. Of course, Mr. Mulcair isn’t so much concerned about the poor as he is about the middle class. Though for middle class families—my own included—who make much, much more than those who live on a minimum wage, getting by can be tough once you factor in higher education, car and mortgage payments, retirement savings, and so on, until your real disposable income goes like that!
Raising the minimum wage should also lead to higher wages for the middle class. Everything gets bumped up, right? Wait, wouldn’t that mean prices get bumped up too? Wouldn’t it mean that, even though we make more, it wouldn’t necessarily come across that way in the bills? Oops! I forgot, please forgive me—even if the minimum wage is raised, Mulcair hasn’t guaranteed that higher wages would increase as well. Moreover, this is a Federal minimum wage. It would only apply to federally regulated industries, which include phone services, broadcasting, banks, mining, and modes of transportation such as railways and ferries. The provinces wouldn’t be forced to do anything and, if they were, they could opt out of it. #notwithstandingclause! Our ten provinces and three territories don’t like edicts coming down from on high. We’ve seen that from Mr. Harper. Could Mulcair be trying to emulate the incumbent Prime Minister?
Harper doesn’t like playing with the Premiers, the UN, Parliament, or anyone except himself really. That’s why he doesn’t like sitting down and talking with the Premiers. Mr. Mulcair made this announcement alone, almost as though he didn’t talk to the Premiers either, despite wanting to pressure them into raising their minimum wage by implementing this federal one. Or rather re-implementing it since we got rid of it back in the 90’s. How progressive of him.