Advocacy

Dear Prime
Minister,

 

I am Vikki Wan, a student at Queen’s University in
Kingston. In my course on the Social Determinants of Health, I learned that
there are many links between income and health. Such as determinants of
poverty, housing and early life opportunities, access to care, and psychosocial
stress. I was shocked to hear that the minimum wage is going to dramatically
increase to $15 beginning from October 2018. Without a well thought out plan,
the increase may cause unintended consequences such as a decrease in employment
and inflation of basic needs, hurting those the government are trying to help,
the low-income families. This is a public health crisis that demands our
immediate attention and intervention.

 

Basic
income on its own, will not be enough to eliminate poverty or achieve the other
objectives its proponents are pursuing. However, there are many different ways
to aid the low-income families, but it has to be done correctly. Like Armine
Yalnizyan, the senior economist of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
said, “You can either give people more money, or you can actually reduce the
things that make not having money a [health] problem.” If we dramatically
increase the minimum wage, it may help improve the standard of living for low
income families. But the government should be concerned that this significant
increase will likely reduce employment. This faster growth in minimum wage will
draw more workers to low-income occupations, which will increase the cost of
labour and reduce the company’s profit. As a result, companies will have no
choice but to increase their prices, reduce their production and employees or suspend
their business. The effect of this reduction in employment will result to more
vulnerable families in poverty. There has been a study conducted, showing that
teen employment has dramatically decreased as the minimum wage increased. This
is critical because teens are the more valued earners for families with
low-incomes. In result to this, more families will fall below the low-income
cut offs.

 

I urge your
Government to act on the following recommendations if Ontario implements such a
steep increase the minimum wage. The change of minimum wage needs to be implemented
gradually so companies such as small-sized enterprises have time to adjust. The
impact of minimum wage on workers and business is also contrasting when
comparing rural areas with the urban areas since the companies are usually
smaller and living costs are lower in rural areas. Therefore, the government
should consider a different minimum wage, that is lower outside of cities. In addition,
the government should consider flexibility to delay minimum-wage increase in
case of recession, like what California has implemented. A similar strategy can
be implemented here to alleviate the sudden impacts.

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