Why faculty members should care about the minimum wage

By Timothy MacNeill

There has been quite a bit of concern lately over the minimum wage. In just under 14 weeks, a legislated minimum wage increase will be taking place in Ontario for a majority of workers.

Advocates of a $15 minimum wage are concerned that the Conservative government plans to back away from a minimum wage increase. Faculty members, through the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), have stood strong in support of campaigns like the the $15 and Fairness campaign. The UOIT Faculty Association is currently encouraging all faculty to stand with OCUFA by signing their petition which is available here.

As a faculty member, you might be wondering how such an increase would impact you – especially considering a lot of misinformation that has surrounded this heated topic.

At this moment, it is a good idea to review what we know about increased minimum wages and their impact on employment levels and the economy in general. We now have a long history of studies on minimum wage increases, none of which have been able to establish a link between wage hikes and job loss, a slowing of economic growth, or tangible increases in consumer prices.

As far as the latest increases in the Ontario minimum wage – they were followed by a period of dramatic job creation, not reduction, and a very strong economy. This is consistent with a large tradition of economic theory that cites increased wages for lower-paid segments as an economic stimulant, not a drag, on employment and the economy in general.

Put simply, people with money in their pockets spend that money, and this consumption boost creates a robust economy. What does this imply? Business owners, low-wage workers, and high-wage workers would all benefit by supporting increases in the minimum wage.

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