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 very concerned 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.
income itself will not be able to completely eliminate poverty. 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
the minimum wage dramatically increases, it may help improve the standard of living
for low income families but the government should also keep in mind that this
significant increase will most likely reduce employment as well. This dramatic
growth of minimum wage will draw more workers to low-income occupations, which
will increase the cost of labour and reduce the company’s profit. If this happens,
companies will either have to close down their business or increase their
prices and/or reduce production and employees. The effect of this reduction in
employment will result to more families vulnerable to poverty. There has been a
study conducted, showing that teen employment has dramatically decreased as the
minimum wage increases. 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. Since
businesses and living costs are lower in rural areas compared to urban areas,
the minimum wage should reflect on that, meaning minimum wages in rural areas
should be lower compared to urban areas. In addition, Canada may implement something
California has tried, to have flexibility to delay the increase of minimum wage
in case of recession. A similar strategy can be implemented here to alleviate
the sudden impacts.
for your attention to this urgent matter.