Minimum wage hikes could cost Canada’s economy 60,000 jobs by 2019

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz (R) and Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn Wilkins walk to a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

The Bank of Canada says in a new report that minimum wage hikes across Canada this year could cost about 60,000 jobs by 2019, despite the benefits they would bring.As of Jan. 1, Ontario’s minimum wage is now $14 an hour, up from $11.60. By the end of 2018, Alberta, Quebec and Prince Edward Island are also expected to hike their minimum wages.

Researchers at the central bank published a research note  over the winter break, attempting to calculate what sort of economic impact a series of minimum wage hikes set to come into force this year will have on Canada’s economy.

Economists and business leaders have squabbled over the issue, with some of the former arguing higher wages boost the economy and help fight income inequality. Those on the other side, meanwhile, say the costs are too high and will come with a heavy toll on the job market.

Rising wages are certainly direct costs for small business owners. But the impact on workers is just as direct. A minimum wage worker in Ontario just got a raise of $2.40 an hour compared to what they were making last week. That’s an extra $96 a week for full-time work, or almost $5,000 a year, before taxes and other deductions.

Based on one of the models the bank uses, Canada’s economy could have roughly 60,000 fewer jobs by 2019 than it would otherwise have seen. But other models the bank uses show a wider range of results, from as little as 30,000 to as many as 136,000 jobs lost.