Wynne announces minimum wage spike to $15

Published On May 30, 2017 | By Kyle Drinnan | Business, News, Politics

By: Dylan Perego & Michael Piccoli

Premier Kathleen Wynne is changing the landscape of Ontario’s economy, announcing Tuesday the increase of minimum wage in the province to $15 by Jan. 1, 2019.

The raise will bring Ontario to the top of the Canadian spectrum compared to fellow provinces after previously boasting the fourth highest minimum wage in the country for general workers.

Ontario’s current minimum wage for general workers sits at $11.40. Minimum wage will increase to $14  on Jan. 1, 2018 before the final increase to $15 the following year.

Wynne proposed additional changes to current workforce standards, including:

  • Equal pay for part-time workers in the same positions as full-time workers.
  • An additional week of vacation entitlement for workers with more than five-years of tenure.
  • The requirement of employers to pay workers three hours of wages should they cancel a shift with less than 48 hours notice.
  • Workers receiving 10 personal emergency leave days a year with a minimum of two of those days being paid.

Humber News reported from Queen’s Park where several politicians responded to the wage hike, including Minister of Labour, Kevin Flynn.

“I don’t buy that this will bankrupt businesses,” Flynn said. “The evidence is not there.”

Dan Kelly, President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), said he doesn’t believe that the proposed raise will be good for the province.

Kelly also called the wage hikes unmanageable for Ontario’s small businesses.

The plan resembles that of Alberta, which is also currently in the process of raising its provincial minimum wage to $15 by 2018. The states of California and New York have also adopted similar plans, with California targeting a Jan. 1, 2023 date to reach $15 for all workers, according to state website information, while New York’s state website shows that figure  will reach various points for differing areas of the workforce beginning in 2018.

“I believe it is the responsibility of government to take a stand, to play a role, and to do what it can to do all that it can to ensure that the people of Ontario are given every chance to thrive and achieve their potential during this time of dramatic change,” Wynne said.

Wynne’s announcement comes just a year prior to the next Ontario general election scheduled for June 1, 2018.

In the latest Forum Research poll of 1,103 Ontario voters, 41 percent supported the opposition Progressive Conservatives while 28 percent supported the Liberals. The NDP, meanwhile, had 23 percent and the Green Party was supported by six percent.

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