Sudbury

Report on raising minimum wage stirs debate

A northern Ontario MPP is countering a think tank’s findings that say increasing the minimum wage is good politics and bad economics.

Nickel Belt MPP disagrees that the increases could harm big businesses

A northern Ontario think tank said that large increases to minimum wage prove good for politics but often bad for business. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

A northern Ontario MPP is countering a think tank’s findings that say increasing the minimum wage is good politics and bad economics.

A report from the Northern Policy Institute said that raising the minimum wage does not reduce poverty.

Institute president Charles Cirtwell said the study shows that 60 per cent of minimum wage earners are between 15 and 24 years of age and when companies increase the minimum wage they often will be forced to shut down or cut hours.   

“What tends to happen when you raise the minimum wage is companies that can't offer that wage either close or reduce the number of hours or the number of hours that they have on offer so we end up with higher unemployment among target groups that we're trying to help,” he said.

“It's pretty clear that there are going to be groups that are hurt by those kinds of things, even though politicians like it because it helps them get re-elected.”

But the NDP MPP for Nickel Belt, Frances Gelinas, said the majority of employers are large corporations that aren’t hugely affected by small wage increases for their employees and doubts it would result in cuts to jobs or hours.

“For me, a lot of those arguments don't hold, as soon as you start to scratch the surface,” she said.

The report recommends that adjustments in minimum wage should be dependent on the economy and introduced in small, continuous increments.

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