Op-Eds

The largest one-time increase in the minimum-wage rate that any province experienced over the past two decades happened in Ontario at the beginning of the year. The early results are in: As anticipated, it has caused a reduction in youth employment, but this dramatic minimum-wage increase has also extensively hurt the employment of older workers. The Ontario government increased its minimum wage to $14 an hour on Jan. 1 from $11.40 an hour; a 23-per-cent boost. The real impact of a higher minimum wage, however, depends on how businesses absorb the increase in operating expenses when labour costs go up. Did employers cut back on the number of workers? Comparing the pre- and post-January three-month averages of the number...
The aging of the population has accelerated in Canada during the past decade, but not all provinces evenly bear the brunt of an aging labour force and growing share of seniors. The four Atlantic provinces are facing significant challenges while Alberta is less vulnerable and more prepared. Lower fertility rates and improvements in life expectancy have contributed to Canada’s aging population. This demographic shift causes the labour force to shrink as a percentage of the population and slows economic growth. Further, the aging population has some implications for government finances since it dampens revenue growth and puts pressure on government spending that is sensitive to aging, such as health care and public pensions. Across the...
In recent years, municipal employees’ wage growth has constantly outpaced other unionized sectors. Since wages, salaries and benefits make up more than half of the operating expenditure for most municipalities in Canada, ever-growing municipal wages are putting pressure on local public finances. The evidence of fast-growing municipal employees’ wages can be found in the comprehensive data on collective bargaining covering 500 or more employees provided by Employment and Social Development Canada. Wage growth of municipal employees has significantly surpassed inflation in most years: municipal employees saw an average real wage growth of 0.53 per cent a year since 2011. In contrast, non-municipal public-sector workers saw, on...
Hugh Segal is principal of Massey College. He served in the Canadian Senate as a Conservative from Ontario and was vice-chair of the subcommittee on urban poverty. Every democracy’s internal legitimacy is tied to how fair the residents of that country feel their society is or tries to be. The fairness of laws, the fairness of government generally, the mix of fairness and opportunity writ large across the entire economy, fairness in the workplace and fairness of the tax system—these all matter. That’s why successful economically prosperous economies have a special duty to keep working at fairness and reducing the pathologies that poverty imposes in ways that deny opportunity, expands the bureaucratic state and widens...
Free licensed child care. It sounds like a parents’ dream. But look a little closer at the Government of Ontario’s recently announced plan to deliver free licensed child care for preschoolers, and flaws emerge. Beyond the arguably late starting age of 2½ years, this initiative could have unwelcome consequences due to its limited accessibility and its potential to create excess demand for licensed preschool care. Certainly the need for a solution is great. Gradual rises in dual-income-earner families and the employment rate of women in Ontario have led to higher needs for child care over the past few decades. But cost is probably the main barrier to access. According to the latest family survey by Statistics Canada, about 43 per...