A professor from the University of Calgary says it’s difficult to justify that people in one part of Ontario should be earning the same minimum wage as those in another part of the province.

Doctor Jack Mintz was a guest speaker at the State of the North conference in North Bay, hosted by the Northern Policy Institute, where he made the case for government wage subsidies.

Mintz told Moose News that people can argue that residents of the GTA need a $14 minimum wage because the cost of living is greater.

“But there’s no reason the minimum wage should be the same across Ontario,” he said.

Mintz said one of those places that should not have a high minimum wage is Northern Ontario.

“The cost of living is lower (in Northern Ontario) because the cost of housing is much lower.”

Mintz also points out that when faced with a higher minimum wage, employers tend to fire some workers because of their increased costs.

He also adds that it helps other people that don’t need it.

Mintz cites as an example students looking for summer work who are from affluent families.

Mintz’s suggestion is for the government to replace minimum wage increases with a permanent wage subsidy for the employer.

“People wouldn’t get fired,” he said.

“They’d be able to work for a higher minimum wage and the company will be able to keep them on because they’re not paying the extra cost of that wage.”

Moose News asked Mintz how the government would cover the expense of a wage subsidy and he said a small increase to the HST was a possible answer.