Opinion Column

Opposition without solution doesn't work: SILVEIRA

 PETER SILVEIRA, Special to the Examiner

This past June, Ontario’s Liberal government introduced legislation that will raise the minimum wage to $15 and also guarantee workers at least three weeks of vacation a year after five years with the same employer.


I have to say that I am somewhat disappointed hearing some of Barrie’s top politicians talking against these historic improvements for Ontario’s and Barrie’s hard-working families.

In my view, the worst of all this is that the political opposition is just for the sake of opposing the government without bringing any solid solution of their own to the table.

The wage increase will progress until the $15 mark only by 2019 and will mean that workers will then earn an income slightly above the poverty line. As a direct result of these changes, many of those workers may not need to balance multiple jobs, and I believe employers will see more productive employees and reduced staff turnover.

As a business owner myself, I understand the minimum wage increase will affect my bottom line and it will further burden one small group: that is, the employers of low-wage workers and, to some extent, their customers.

This goes back to my previous comment regarding those city politicians who have drawn a line for the sake of only opposing rather than to be willing to engage in the discussion and bring solutions to the table.

For example, how about those politicians who oppose the minimum wage increase look into how costs associated with increased wages can be offset in other areas such as the lowering of small business tax rates and corporate tax rates, and less red tape, to make the transition easier. This way, both groups benefits.

Or, who knows, maybe develop better policies with solutions that will facilitate easier access to capital, allowing businesses to achieve their full potential. The problem that plagues our economy is not the wage increase proposed by the government, it’s the difficulty for start-ups, and small and mid-sized businesses, accessing capital for expansion.

Government intervention in the marketplace can sometimes create more problems than it fixes. I would prefer a policy raising and indexing the minimum wage so the increases would be forecast by all the business, therefore incorporated on its operational capital plan.

I would like to end it by saying that we also can’t be blind to the many studies that show increasing minimum wage income, not only benefits the individual but also the economy. When people have more money in their pockets, they have more purchasing power to spend in their local economies. After all, minimum wage earners will not be spending their income on international vacations or extravagant cars – they spend it in their communities, buying food, getting school supplies for their kids and going to local restaurants and activities.

For those politicians that oppose increasing the income for the working poor without bringing any solutions of their own to the table, but rather looking after their own political advancement, I have a message for you.

You’re fighting against the masses; you’re fighting an uphill battle, because most Ontarians, even most Canadians, are OK with raising the minimum wage.

Let’s focus on the real problem here. Let’s focus on how the business community can be helped to be more successful by creating policies and strategies to stimulate healthy economic growth thereby creating more jobs.

Remember the proper role of government in the economy is to provide a supportive environment for growth with less intrusion as possible in the market place.

Peter Silveira is Barrie’s Ward 5 councillor. 

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