A Bit More than the Bare Minimum

A Bit More than the Bare Minimum

Phto Credit: Samantha Hamilton, Photo Editor

Ford government to increase minimum wage for hourly workers to $15.

Sulaiman Khan, The Mike Contributor

Toronto — The Progressive-Conservative Government of Ontario has announced an increase in the provincial minimum wage from $14.35 to $15.00 ‎—‎ effective January 1, 2022. Also announced were new wage minimums for students under the age of 18, homeworkers, liquor servers, and hunting and fishing guides. Furthermore, the new policy outlines an annual minimum wage increasing, every October with the rate of inflation.

Premier Ford, along with the Minister of Labour, Monte McNaughton and the Minister of Finance, Peter Bethlenfalvy, have announced a $15 minimum wage for hourly workers, including liquor servers who currently receive lower wages at $12.55 with the expectation of customer tips.

The new legislation will bring an increase to all standards of minimum wages, as well as equalizing the general minimum wage and the liquor server’s minimum wage to a singular amount. Previously Ontario and Quebec were the only provinces in the country to have a specialised wage for servers.

The minimum wage was increased recently, just this October from $14.25 to $14.35 an hour.

The previous Ontario Liberal government under Premier Kathleen Wynne proposed similar legislation that would increase hourly minimum wages to $15 an hour in 2019, but was scrapped when the Ford government took office in October of 2018, citing complaints from business owners over dramatic increases that had already brought wages from $11.60 to $14 the previous year.

“We also recognize that for too long workers have been falling behind, and that wages for many have not kept up with the cost of living. They had Ontario’s back, and now, our government has theirs.” Bethlenfalvy said in a press-release.

The move has been criticized by some for not being enough and by others for being too much. Leader of the Opposition, Andrea Horwath, stating, “Now, $15 won’t cut it. Workers need at least $17 to cover lost wages & sky-high food & gas prices” in a Tweet earlier this month.

Many actual small business and restaurant owners, however, are not in favour of the change, pointing out a lack of communication and consultation with the business community. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce have both released statements outlining concerns of the sustainability the wage increase among the losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, as well as disappointed over the sudden nature of the announcement, leaving business owners less than two months until the policy goes into effect. The increase in wages may lead to an increase in prices as well as having to lay-off workers. The groups implore the government to reconsider the timing of the of the wage increase and request more involvement in future moves to wage increases.

More details and information including the exact numbers for other wage workers such as homeworkers, students under 18, and hunting and fishing guides, are available on the Ontario Newsroom and CFIB websites.