Premier Wynne tours Kemptville Youth Centre, defends impact of impending wage hike

Premier Kathleen Wynne, along with local officials and people associated with the Kemptville Youth Centre. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Nelson Zandbergen
Nation Valley News

KEMPTVILLE — Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne insisted yesterday that young people will do better because of her Liberal government’s hefty minimum wage hike.

“There are young people who are going to benefit enormously from the minimum wage,” said the premier after touring the Kemptville Youth Centre.

Nation Valley News prompted the premier’s reply on the subject by asking if she believed “a good economic future” awaited the teens and children she had just met at the Centre — in light of the impending controversial 32 percent rise in the province’s lowest hourly pay. The minimum wage will rise to $14 this January and $15 a year later.

“There are kids who graduate from high school, who get full-time jobs, and they’re trying to save money, and if they’re earning $11.40 an hour, they can’t,” said Wynne, adding, “There are older people who are working full-time and they can’t look after their families, so it’s hugely important.”

The premier wasn’t buying the argument of youth jobs being shed in reaction to the measure — up to 185,000 lost positions by some estimates. In 2007, Ontario’s Ministry of Finance was advised by retired University of Toronto professor Morley Gunderson that even a 25 percent minimum wage hike could kill 155,000 jobs for teenagers and raise youth unemployment by as much as 15 percent.

“That’s not actually what’s happened in other jurisdictions,” she insisted, repeating, “When you look retrospectively at what has happened in jurisdictions.”

She added that 53 economists have signed onto the Liberal plan as “good for the economy — and all of the money that is earned by people who make minimum wage goes back into the economy.”

She asserted the provincial economy is “growing. We’re seeing really good things happen in all parts of the province. It’s not perfect; there’s still a lot to do. But not everyone’s sharing evenly in that, and so that’s what making the workplace fairer is all about.”

Ontarians will weigh in on Wynne’s prescription for the economy when they head to the polls in the spring, on June 7, 2018.

The premier spent about an hour in Kemptville, looking through the facilities and speaking with the teen patrons at the six-year-old Youth Centre. She took part in a rock-painting craft, perused an inventory of prom dresses and scouted the kitchen at the repurposed church building. Earlier in her Eastern Ontario tour, the premier visited Almonte and Merrickville.

Astride his massive Harley-Davidson, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne poses with Village of Merrickville-Wolford Mayor Dave Nash, following her tour of the Kemptville Youth Centre yesterday. The premier insisted the impending hike in the provincial minimum wage won’t backfire and stall the economic prospects of the very young people she met at the Centre, when Nation Valley News engaged her on the controversial subject afterward. Municipality of North Grenville Mayor David Gordon assists the premier with the photo-op by offering a safe-looking helmet in the clip.


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