Ontario is raising minimum wage to $15 an hour and it'll keep going up from there
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce this morning that his government is raising the province's minimum wage from $14.35 per hour to a square $15 per hour in an effort to help workers keep up with inflation.
Unnamed government sources confirmed to several news outlets Monday night that the minimum wage would shoot up by 65 cents an hour in just a few months, beginning January 1 of 2022.
The "liquor servers minimum wage," currently $12.55 an hour, will also go up to $15 if sources are correct, giving bartenders, waiters and other tip-earning hospitality industry staff some much-needed income security.
Ford is scheduled to formally announce the move from Milton, Ontario, at 11 a.m. today alongside Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy and Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton.
News of the hike, while surely welcome by many, hasn't come without controversy.
Doug Ford chose to take over $5,000 out of the pockets of minimum wage earners by canceling their wage increase.— Andrea Horwath (@AndreaHorwath) November 1, 2021
He needs to give it back. That means a meaningful increase to the living wage — because $15 an hour just won't cut it anymore. #ONpoli pic.twitter.com/csVhuPvUS3
Critics of the premier and his PC government are pointing out that, had he not cancelled a planned increase immediately after taking office in 2018, Ontario's minimum wage would currently already be sitting at $15.75 an hour.
Former premier Kathleen Wynne had increased the rate significantly in 2018 when minimum wage jumped from $11.60 to $14 per hour, but plans for a second increase that would have brought the wage up to $15 in January of 2019 were scrapped by the PCs.
Under the previous Liberal government's plan, the minimum wage would have risen alongside inflation every year following the 2019 boost.
"May I remind this premier that he said no to a $15 minimum wage three years ago? It was one of the first big nos that he said to the workers of this province," said NDP and official opposition leader Andrea Horwath in the legislature on Monday of Ford's plan to now increase minimum wage to $15.
"As a result, workers have lost out on $5,300 since he said no to them back then."
Ouch. At a time when small business revenues are lagging (37% at normal levels) and the cost of doing business is going up, this is going to put a lot of small business owners (whether or not they have min wage roles) in a tough spot. #onpoli https://t.co/9UoxBQui8i— Ryan (@R_Mallough) November 1, 2021
While Horwath argues that $15 an hour isn't enough, some business owners feel like it's too much.
Ryan Mallough, Senior Director of Provincial Affairs in Ontario for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, decried the move Monday night, stating on Twitter that a hike would put a lot of small business owners "in a tough spot."
Ironically, when scrapping Wynne's planned $15 hike and other planned worker protection measures in 2018, Ford's government justified the cut by saying it was necessary to help struggling businesses.
So why, as the province tries to recover from the impacts of a global pandemic and extended lockdowns, are they boosting the minimum wage now?
"Doug Ford's wage freeze in 2018 cost Ontario's minimum wage earners $6200," said the leader of Ontario's Liberal Party, Stephen Del Duca, of the move Monday night. "Seven months before an election, now that he's desperate for votes, [Ford]'s finally ending his fight against minimum wage workers."
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