The steep hike in the minimum wage is the dominant political issue of the moment in Ontario, thanks in no small part to the response of some Tim Hortons franchise owners.
Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals could not have hoped for a better storyline to promote the wage increase that took effect Jan. 1. As first revealed by CBC, the heirs to the Tim Hortons founders cut their workers’ paid breaks and forced them to pay more for their benefits because the minimum wage was rising to $14 an hour.
The Liberals pounced on that news, with Wynne even emerging from her winter vacation to label the Cobourg franchise owners bullies.
There’s plenty of evidence that the minimum wage hike is resonating politically. People are talking about it around the dinner table and, of course, in the coffee shops. The CBC’s original story about the Tim Hortons franchises was viewed 1.5 million times in just two days.
All the polling I’ve seen indicates the increase is pretty darn popular among the vast majority of voters. While business types and conservative commentators are grumbling, their numbers are small in the overall scheme of things. It’s actually hard to think of a political move that has been more widely embraced in this province in years.
The Liberals say they’re raising the minimum wage because it’s the right thing to do, not because there’s an election in June.
Of course not.
Regardless of what the Liberals say, you can be guaranteed it is an absolutely essential ingredient in their re-election campaign.
Witness the news conference that Labour Minister Kevin Flynn held on Friday. His chosen location: an independent coffee shop, an unsubtle attempt to gain more publicity off the Tim Hortons brouhaha. The ostensible “news”…