Alex Pierson: Minimum wage has sown the seeds of division

A protest is planned at the Tim Hortons on Division St. in Cobourg on Wednesday.
A protest is planned at the Tim Hortons on Division St. in Cobourg on Wednesday. Global News

The seeds of division are sown and the blame belongs to you, premier!

The minimum-wage spike has been in effect just a few days and the bad news that was predicted is already making headlines. Businesses big and small are notifying customers of price hikes, employees are being let go or told, “No more freebies.”

COMMENTARY: Wynne double-doubles down in brew-ha-ha over minimum wage

Yes, everyone deserves a fair wage. Period. Most can’t keep up with our ever-increasing costs of living, especially when it’s the government that’s increasingly the cause. At every level, we are nickel-and-dimed on every dollar we earn with fees, revenue tools, tolls — a.k.a taxes.

Oddly, the governments never seem to stop taking, and their remedy is always the same: make someone else pay. And in this case, it’s business owners across Ontario.

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It’s easy to vilify giants such as McDonald’s and Tim Hortons for cutting costs and staff. They are, after all, part of the evil one per cent, except that’s just not true. Individual franchisees own these businesses.

These are everyday people who live in our communities. These are moms and dads who take a lot of risks, use their own money, and work every bit as hard as those they hire. That’s who these franchisees are. But hey, don’t let facts get in the way of an “evil corporation bullies the little guy” narrative.

READ MORE: Children of Tim Hortons founders cut employee benefits due to Ontario minimum wage hike

And the premier didn’t. On hearing that some Tim Hortons locations were cutting costs, Kathleen Wynne jumped right in with accusations of bullying.

Make no mistake, this is her strategy: vilify big bad business and paint yourself as the hero to the little guy.

Wynne said Tim’s franchisees should have come to her with concerns. The problem for Wynne’s narrative? They did.

Tim Hortons owners attended the almost non-existent consultations in the summer. They warned the Liberals this very thing would happen with a rushed minimum-wage hike. They were ignored.

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READ MORE: Premier Wynne to blame for Tim Hortons cutbacks, not franchise owners: small business group

Wynne’s narrative doesn’t fly. And it shouldn’t. It’s a lie.

In 2014, Wynne herself, along with both opposition parties, signed legislation agreeing that any rise to the minimum wage would only happen at the rate of inflation.

READ MORE: Tim Hortons blames ‘reckless’ franchise owners for benefit cuts, backlash

But then a funny thing happened. Wynne’s polling numbers tanked as soaring electricity costs started bankrupting everyday people. She needed to change the narrative, so a $15 minimum wage it was.

What is clear about Wynne’s “fair wages” policy is that it is anything but fair.

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It’s unfair to businesses now buckling under the sudden cost surge, and it’s unfair to the folks it pretends to help.

Both sides are being used. Both are being pitted against one another. Both are just pawns of Wynne’s political ambitions.

If the premier is serious about fairness, she would stop attacking those who pay her bills and stop wasting billions of our hard-earned money on scandal and failed policy.

That money alone could go to things like affordable housing, long-term care, mental-health care for the homeless now freezing on sewer grates — or a guaranteed income.

Here’s what is fair, premier. Stop asking us for more. Stop meddling in the markets. And stop with the divisive politics.

Not everyone who disagrees with your “stretch goal” policy is a bully. They are everyday people simply trying to survive the disastrous policies your government has created.

Alex Pierson is the host of ON Point with Alex Pierson on Global News Radio 640 Toronto, 900 CHML and 980 CFPL.