Bad Judgement

It’s as if even the Wynne Liberals know it’s time to stick a fork in them, cause they’re done.

That after 14 years in power, they’ve lost touch with ordinary Ontarians, most of whom work in the private sector.

Take last week’s bizarre defence of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s minimum wage hikes by Barrie Liberal MPP Ann Hoggarth, who served up this gem:

“If you’re going to go out of business on the backs of your employees because you can’t afford to pay them this, then perhaps you should reassess your business plan and reassess whether you should be an employer at all.”

Hoggarth was no doubt drawing on her vast experience running a small business as a career elementary school teacher and past president of the Simcoe County Elementary Teachers Federation, before entering politics.

Since my late father did run a small business — Al’s Men’s Wear on Yonge St. — and I was a teenager before I realized not all fathers worked six days a week, for at least 60 hours and often more, let me suggest what Hoggarth doesn’t understand.

First, it’s not that Wynne hiked the minimum wage that has the Ontario Legislature’s Financial Accountability Office predicting it will put at least 50,000 jobs at risk, while the TD Bank says 90,000 and the Keep Ontario Working Coalition, an employers’ group, 185,000.

It’s that Wynne announced a 31.6% hike to the minimum wage out of the blue in May, increasing it from $11.40 an hour to $15 in 15 months, from Oct. 1, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2019.

Hoggarth apparently doesn’t understand hiking the minimum wage doesn’t just increase the payroll costs to small businesses for minimum wage workers, but for those earning more than the minimum wage as well.

For example, when government raises the minimum wage from $11.40 to $15 over 15 months, small businesses also have to increase the salaries of employees who were earning $12 to about $17 an hour before the minimum wage hike was announced, in a similar time frame, if they want to keep good staff.

A government that understood the vital importance to small businesses of cost predictability would have increased the minimum wage gradually over the Liberals’ 14 years in power, not hit them with massive hikes — particularly the increase from $11.60 on Oct. 1, 2017 to $14 on Jan. 1, 2018 — less than six months before the June, 2018 election.

Does Hoggarth know anyone who has seen their salaries increase 31.6% over 15 months?

If not, how does she expect small businesses to increase their revenues enough to cover a 31.6% hike to the minimum wage over that period?

Because if you can’t increase revenues that quickly, then the only option is to reduce expenses by cutting back on labour costs.

Finally, in addition to the minimum wage, Wynne is increasing the costs faced by small businesses for employee vacations, emergency leave, part-time and temporary work and shift cancellations.

That’s to say nothing of the escalating costs small businesses have faced under Liberal policies to pay for such things as skyrocketing electricity bills and increasing natural gas costs, the latter caused by Wynne’s cap-and-trade carbon pricing scheme.

On Monday, Wynne rejected calls from the Progressive Conservatives for Hoggarth to apologize for her arrogant and ignorant remarks.

More proof the Liberals shouldn’t be in the business of government at all.

lgoldstein@postmedia.com

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