Economic freedom is a cornerstone of Canadian society. Having a meaningful job is as important to your own self-worth, as it is to the health of our country.
I know this because I grew up poor. We lived in government subsidized housing. Politicians try to tell me that raising the minimum wage would help get people out of poverty.
When I was growing up, I wasn’t afraid of those unglamorous service jobs. I needed to start somewhere, so I took work where I could find it. That meant being a labourer on construction sites. It’s true that the skills I learnt lugging timber around don’t apply to my work now. But at least it taught me what I didn’t want to do, and that can be just as important.
We live in a highly competitive job market. One of the most important things is getting your foot in the door. Raising the minimum wage will make it harder to get that experience. How will small business be able to afford to give someone that opportunity to better themselves.
They won’t be able to.
Have you been to a McDonalds lately? They’re replacing their cashiers with easy to use machines. Those machines are replacing human jobs. It doesn’t take a psychic to see that automation is becoming more and more a part of our economy. Currently McDonalds employs around 80,000 Canadians, how long will it be before the staff putting your burger together is replaced with a machine?
Increasing minimum wage to $15 will speed that process up.
Not all companies will be able to implement machine automation, but they will need to make cold mathematical decisions. How many staff can I keep, should I start cutting shifts, do I have to increase my prices and lose clients? Running a small business isn’t easy work, government shouldn’t make it harder.
If the problem is poverty, here is the solution: let the markets decide.
A good example is unpaid internships. People on the left decry unpaid internships, but then demand higher minimum wages that make it impossible for business to afford paying these young students who don’t yet have the skills necessary to profitably contribute to the organization.
The only thing the government can do is make sure we start at the same place. There’s nothing wrong with safety laws, and anti-child labour laws, but once politicians start fixing the price of labour, the market becomes distorted and everyone loses.