SooToday.com received the following open letter to the Coalition of Chambers of Commerce from Vicky Evans, President of CUPE Local 4148 and Vice President, Sault Ste. Marie and District CUPE Council
I have a few comments and questions for the Coalition of Chambers of Commerce . . .
What exactly will businesses do if given time to “adjust and prepare” for the changes proposed by Bill 148? How will giving businesses more time to adjust lessen the effects of an increased minimum wage?
I suggest that the hope of the Chamber of Commerce is that by delaying the changes they will have the opportunity to put the Progressive Conservative party into power in 2018 and completely quash Bill 148.
The Chambers of Commerce offer no proof that increasing the minimum wage will weaken the economy, kill jobs and decrease economic growth. Their arguments are based on the speculation of current business owners not on actual fact.
This speculation is similar to the comments we often hear from employers when they are faced with the possible unionization of a workplace. It is fear-mongering pure and simple and it is aimed at our most vulnerable workers who are desperate to hold onto their jobs.
Of the hundreds of studies conducted on the employment effects of a minimum wage increase, the majority find no evidence of significant job losses. As for an increased minimum wage resulting in ‘increased pricing across the board’ how is it that the minimum wage has been basically stagnate since 1977 but prices on everything have sky-rocketed since then?
How is it that despite an annual economic growth of approximately 1.5 per cent over the past 30 years the vast majority of Canadians are actually worse off than they were 30 years ago? The wealthiest 10 per cent, however, have become wealthier. We must raise the floor for our lowest paid workers in order to reverse the trend of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
The letter also expresses a concern about equal pay rates for temporary and part time workers. I have a suggestion – get rid of temporary and part-time jobs and make them all full-time. Businesses are getting rich on the backs of precarious workers who are stuck in jobs with zero job security, benefits, sick time, etc.
I feel strongly that if you improve the working and living conditions of our workers you are going to be rewarded with committed, hard-working and loyal employees who will benefit your businesses in ways that are vital to its success.
We have a long way to go to make fair workplaces and better jobs in Ontario communities and Bill 148 is a step in the right direction.
President, CUPE Local 4148 &
Vice President, Sault Ste. Marie & District CUPE Council