Giving to the Rich and Taking from the Poor: Debunking Scheer’s Claims on Minimum Wage Increases

(By Michelle AllanQueen’s University)


At 4 months in, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has the lowest approval rating of any federal
party leader.

This month, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer targeted the Liberals’ proposed tax reforms in a new
attack ad. The ad, which aired for the first time on October 9th and had been online since the
beginning of the month, accuses the Liberals’ new tax code of stifling growth of small businesses and
start-ups. Scheer has attempted to popularize the hashtag #UnfairTaxChanges, and often pleads his
followers to help him “save local business”.

However, many economists argue that raising the minimum wage won’t lead to loss of jobs or
businesses. Numerous studies have even cited minimum wage increases resulting in a boost to the economy from
the bottom up and increased family income of workers who are low wage or below the poverty line.
Scheer’s concerns about the cost of paying workers a living wage are ideologue at best and
downright venal at worst. Honest, hard work at a full time job should, at the very least, entitle the
worker to basic human needs like food, housing, and healthcare. By opposing the minimum wage,
Scheer is horrifically under-valuing the lives and labour of Canadians.

Besides the obvious benefit of reduced income inequality, a minimum wage increase means raising
income of people who have little savings, and therefore spend the largest percentage of their money.
Considering how much of the Canadian economy is powered by consumer spending, any reduction in
labour due to the increase minimum wage could be offset by the increase in the working poor’s
spending. This would not only lead to high qualities of life for low income families, but would also
stimulate jobs and economic growth.

If Scheer is truly committed to the wellbeing of small businesses instead of just using that cause as an
excuse to ensure the upper class and financial elite remain in power, he should reconsider the
efficacy of a low-wage economy. Paying less than a living wage not only leaves workers in poverty,
but is also an unsustainable business model— it smothers small businesses, which cannot cut costs as
aggressively as chain stores and large corporations. Choosing to pay employees as little as you
legally can is not only demeaning and morally dubious, but economically shortsighted. If some
businesses can only function by paying poverty wages, the loss of them won’t be mourned, especially
with better employers cropping up in their place.

Scheer’s concern for government spending is valid, however misdirected. Instead of denying the
poorest Canadians a human, dignified wage, he could expand some of his enthusiasm towards salary hikes for MPs and Senators to include the working class.

Scheer’s rejection of a living wage ignores the fundamental principles of modern fiscal conservatism.
The most efficient economic system is the one that provides opportunity for the people. There is no
reason to believe that a system that rewards entrepreneurship and one that provides the working class
a fair wage are mutually exclusive. Recognizing that both CEOs and those making minimum wage
vote is not only smart business— its smart politics.

 

 

Sources

Blodget, Henry. “Sorry, It’s Not A ‘Law Of Capitalism’ That You Pay Your Employees As Little As
Possible.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 07 Aug. 2013. Web.

CTV Regina. “Poll: Andrew Scheer Has Lowest Approval among Federal Party Leaders.” CTV
News. Bell Media, 08 Sept. 2017. Web.

Evans, Pete. “‘Boosting the Economy from the Bottom Up’: Why Minimum Wage Hikes Are a Good
Thing.” CBC News. CBC/Radio Canada, 04 June 2017. Web.

Myths & Facts about a $15 Minimum Wage. N.p.: Campaign for $15 and Fairness, 2017.
Print. http://15andfairness.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/F15-Myths-Facts-Sheets.pdf

Raj, Althia. “How Much Do Canadian MPs And Senators Make?” HuffPost Canada. Huffington
Post, 02 Apr. 2014. Web.

“Real Gross Domestic Product by Expenditure Account, Quarterly Change – Seasonally Adjusted at
Annual Rates, Chained (2007) Dollars .” Real Gross Domestic Product by Expenditure
Account, Quarterly Change – Seasonally Adjusted at Annual Rates, Chained (2007) Dollars ,
Statistics Canada, 31 Apr. 2017. www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/170531/t002a-eng.htm.

Scheer, Andrew (AndrewScheer). “Thank you @CPC_HQ @PierrePoilievre @DanAlbas
@tomkmiec for standing up for CDNs against Trudeau’s #UnfairTaxChanges” 28 September
2017, 5:36 PM. Tweet.

Scheer, Andrew (AndrewScheer). “QP: I have a positive vision to create prosperity and opportunity
for everyone. I’m fighting to save local business.” 19 September 2017, 2:20 PM. Tweet.

Schmitt, John. “Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on
Employment?” Center for Economic and Policy Research (2013): n. pag. Web.

United States Congressional Budget Office. The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on
Employment and Family Income. Rep. United States Congressional Budget Office, 18 Feb.
2014. Web.