McDonell, Tories torch Wynne after financial watchdog issues minimum-wage warning

MPP Jim McDonell. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

QUEEN’S PARK – Young workers face in excess of 50,000 lost job positions as a result of the Wynne government’s impending minimum wage hikes, according to Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office. The independent watchdog’s recent analysis of the potential economic damage has been seized upon by the Official Opposition Progressive Conservatives, including local MPP Jim McDonell.

“The Ontario PC Caucus and I have joined business advocates for months telling this government that they must study the full impact of their proposed minimum wage changes before proceeding with them,” McDonell commented. “Instead, the government continues to persevere in an approach that employers warn will result in significant cost-cutting pressures on existing small and medium businesses.”

The Tories point out that, during committee hearings on Bill 148, the governing Liberals rejected opposition amendments that would have required an economic impact study of the Bill before implementation.

The OFAO’s bombshell estimate, while still hefty, is somewhat more modest than other reported predictions ranging as high as 185,000 lost jobs.

“Fifty thousand or more young Ontarians out of work is not an acceptable outcome,” declared McDonell. “Employment loss in a job market such as ours, where well-paid and stable jobs are harder to come by, is bound to hamper these workers’ career progress. Reports highlight how the current government’s career support programs have limited success.  The Auditor-General recently found that only a fraction of Employment Ontario program clients were employed full-time at the end of their training.”

The PC’s are not impressed by the Minister of Labour’s suggestion that businesses to raise prices to cover increased labour costs.  

“The Liberals need to start listening to experts and employers, who consistently warn about the need to proceed only with great caution and only after a full study of the economic consequences of the government’s planned labour reform,” McDonell said. “Life is already hard under the Liberals, and they are about to make it even harder for many.”

The watchdog’s job loss estimate  with other of potential lost jobs resulting from the government’s two-year phase-in of a $15-per-hour minimum wage increase.

Premier Kathleen Wynne defended the controversial hikes during this impromptu sidewalk interview with Nation Valley News at a Kemptville youth centre last month (see clip below). The premier highlighted that 53 economists have signed on to her government’s plan. She also said she had no intention of calling an election outside of next spring’s fixed election date.   

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