Minimum wage hike ‘slippery slope’: chamber prez

Minimum wage hike ‘slippery slope’: chamber prez

By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario – The president of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce is sounding off against the minimum wage increase in Ontario, which becomes reality this fall.

The provincial government announced Thursday basic wage will jump to $11.25/hr in October, up from $11/hr. (Read more here.)

Chamber President Kevin Hargreaves, owner of Kelsey’s in Cornwall, characterized the 25-cent boost as undue stress on local businesses.

“Just jacking up minimum wage to offset people under the poverty line is a slippery slope,” said Hargreaves. “The haves and have-nots will continue to be in those spots.”

The government raised minimum wage 75 cents to $11 in 2014 — the first time it had gone up since 2010.

He believes the wage increases hurt small businesses operating on very thin margins, forcing owners to cut down staff and drive up prices.

Hargreaves pointed out that Ontario and Nunavut currently pay the highest minimum wages at $11 per hour.

“Minimum wage is there so you can earn a living without an education – the onus is on the person to further educate themselves or consider a trade,” he said. “Businesses shouldn’t have to pay for the burden of the employee.”

Brian Lynch disagrees.

According to the newly re-elected president of the federal and provincial NDP riding associations in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, the wage increase is actually good for local businesses.

“I don’t accept his line of thinking at all – a higher minimum wage would be helpful since most people under the poverty line spend their disposal income in the community,” said Lynch.

In Sept. 2013, he joined the Cornwall & District Labour Council in a protest march aimed at large corporate chains, such as Tim Hortons and McDonald’s, to raise the benchmark wage to $14.

Lynch noted that increasing the wage will help make low-income families less dependent on government programs.

“You can’t support a family on minimum wage,” he said. “An extra 25 cents…it’s peanuts, really.”

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is calling for a federal minimum wage of $15/hr by 2019.

Share this article