By Ashley Cowell
Minimum wage in Ontario is increasing to an even $11 an hour this June, tying it with Nunavut for the highest hourly wage in Canada.
Premier Kathleen Wynne and Ontario Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi made the announcement this morning at Toronto’s CSI Coffee Pub at Bathurst and Bloor.
After years of wage freezes during the Conservative era, the Liberals raised the minimum wage nearly 50 per cent when they came into power in 2003.
Minimum wage increases could come annually based on the cost of living, Wynne said during today’s press conference.
In 2009, Statistics Canada reported about 149,600 people between the ages of 20 and 24 work in minimum wage jobs.
While the increase is not as high as some were hoping for, Humber students, like Swade Shepard, think it is a step in the right direction.
For more reaction from Humber students, click here.
In an interview with the radio program At Humber, Naqvi explained the factors that went into the decision and why now is the right time to raise wages.
“I think this is a significant move,” Naqvi said during the media scrum. “It ensures a single mom who is working full time can be above the poverty line after taxes.”
While student wage earners welcome the news, small business owners may not adjust as easily to the change.
Nicole Troster, senior policy analyst for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the change in wages would affect small, independent business owners, despite the six month notice.
“Six months is great, it makes it more transparent,” Troster said. “But the retroactive decision by the government is leaving business owners scratching their heads.”
Businesses could have to resort to raising the costs of their goods and services or cutting employee hours to accommodate the new hourly rate.