$15 federal minimum wage just a headline grabber

As great as a $15 federal minimum wage sounds, it’s unclear how the NDP’s recent proposal will help relieve poverty.

NDP leader Tom Mulcair said last week he’ll propose a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage for vote in Parliament. As it stands, the NDP’s plan would only apply to the one million workers who work in federally regulated industries, such as transportation, telecommunications and broadcasting.

Mulcair said such a move could encourage provinces to raise their minimum wage for all workers, which would assist in alleviating poverty.

In 2012-13, the average salary of a federal worker was $114,000. This is projected to rise to $129,800 by 2014-15. In general, these aren’t impoverished individuals in desperate need of financial assistance.

If the NDP wants to address poverty, starting with federal workers isn’t the way to do it. If a federal minimum wage is established, there’s going to be resulting inflation to match it, with the price of goods and services increasing right alongside these wages.

This sort of change needs to be researched and implemented cautiously by economists, not by politicians who haven’t shown any evidence for how it would work.

Mulcair’s proposal is limited in scope, ambiguous, superficial, idealistic and without any clear indication of how it will alleviate poverty — save for the off-chance provinces feel inspired to change their minimum wages for non-federal workers.

As it stands, this is another empty promise made by a politician with the hopes of grabbing headlines and media attention in anticipation of the 2015 election.

Journal Editorial Board

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