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‘A long time coming’: Ontario’s minimum hourly wage now $15

'A long time coming'-Ontario's minimum hourly wage now $15-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announces an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour at a news conference in Milton, Ont., on Nov. 2, 2021. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

As previously announced, Ontario’s minimum hourly wage rose to $15 on New Year’s Day.

“Ontario’s workers deserve a raise, and today we’re delivering one,” Premier Doug Ford said in a Saturday news release.

“There’s no better way to support hard-working Ontarians right now than raising the minimum wage.”

Scott Doherty, a spokesperson with Unifor, welcomed the increase.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Doherty said, adding, “There needs to be continued increases.”

The province’s minimum wage last rose by 10 cents on Oct 1. On Nov. 1, Ford announced it would rise again from $14.35 to $15. Similarly, the $12.55 minimum wage for workers receiving tips while serving alcohol has also risen to $15.

As a result, the average person working full-time minimum wage hours can expect to make $1,350 more each year. The increase is expected to impact roughly 760,000 workers’ wages.

Doherty said it’s important to remember that $15 is inadequate.

“It’s not a living wage,” he said, especially given food prices are expected to rise this year.

“It’s not really a major wage increase that’s going to make them all of a sudden have some extra cash,” Doherty said, “This is money they need to survive.”

Even Ford admitted $15 isn’t enough.

When he announced the change, a reporter asked Ford if he thought he could survive on $15 per hour. No, the premier acknowledged, but “it’s a start.”

Julie Kwiecinski, director of provincial affairs for Ontario at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said that raising the minimum wage is an oversimplified solution that won’t work.

“It comes at the worst possible time for small businesses,” she said, “It’s completely out of touch with the business realities of the day.”

The increase for workers receiving tips while serving alcohol is going to hit the restaurant industry hard, Kwiecinksi predicted.

“The industry is already on its knees,” she said. “The new year is not going to start off happy for a lot of small businesses.”

CBC

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