On Friday, the Liberal Party launched a website that mimics the NDP’s website and has a button that says “Do you qualify for the $15 minimum wage increase?”
Once you click, a message states “the NDP minimum wage promise is a mirage. 99% of minimum wage earners do not qualify. It’s misleading and Thomas Mulcair knows it.”
So who is correct?
An analysis shows the NDP advertising is at minimum incomplete, because it fails to mention that minimum wages are set by provinces for about 94 per cent of workers, including those in hospitality and retail, and their plan wouldn’t affect them.
The federal government only sets minimum wages for the six per cent who work in industries such as rail and air transportation, telecommunications, banks, uranium mining, Crown corporations and those on First Nation reserves.
In 2008, the federal government stated there were 820,000 federally regulated workers among the approximately 17,000,000 Canadian workers employed that year. That same year, a Statistics Canada survey found that that 95 per cent of those 820,000 federally regulated workers earned at least $12.50 per hour, which means only about 41,000 earned less than that.
Assuming that all 41,000 all made exactly the minimum wages in their provinces, that’s still only five per cent of the 884,000 Canadians who were earning the minimum wage in Canada in 2008.
So, if one assumes 2008’s numbers still apply, then it appears at least 95 per cent of minimum wage earners wouldn’t be affected by the NDP plan, which is close to the Liberals’ assertion that “99 per cent of minimum wage earners do not qualify.”
But what about those who earn between the provincially set minimum wages and the $15 mark the NDP are targeting for federally regulated workers? There are a lot more of those.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers, which supports the NDP federal minimum wage plan, estimates that about 135,000 people who would see instant wage hikes with a $15/hour federal minimum wage.
The NDP’s own estimate is similar. In a tweet released after the launch of the Liberals’ website, the party said that 100,000 low-income workers will get a raise under the NDP’s federal minimum wage plan.