Minimum wage increase not far enough to help workers, says experts, workers

Oct 6, 2023 | Biz/Tech, News

The provincial minimum wage has officially increased by $1.05 to $16.55, the Ontario government announced on Sunday.

The increase is part of a planned adjustment as outlined in Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.

While the bump may be a positive, activists and minimum wage workers say it is not enough.

Craig Pickthorn, who works with the Ontario Living Wage Network, said just because the minimum wage went up, it does not mean things are going to be different.

“Things become more expensive, and the minimum wage goes up by a tiny bit, so really, how far your weekly earning goes is much less than last year; no, it’s not gonna be different,” he said.

The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario said the increase in the minimum wage would readjust income from business owners to workers.

Workers receiving higher wages would increase household spending and other economic activity.

Jessica Cockerline, who works at a Metro grocery store, said she was happy with the new increase, but it does not help her enough.

“It doesn’t help with other stuff like buying more stuff for school,” Cokerline said. “Inflation is going up more, but the minimum wage increase just went up a dollar.”

Statistics Canada reported the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose four per cent year over year in August, following a 3.3 per cent increase in July.

With that said, the minimum wage increases one dollar every year, and inflation goes up year over year.

Amid rising inflation, workers are trying to afford houses and rent while being paid $16.55 per hour.

Many workers have said the wage should go up to $20 to help with the living cost.

Deena Ladd, an executive director of the Workers Action Centre in Toronto, said the minimum wage should be higher.

“Increase is welcome. Minimum wage should already be higher than it is,” Ladd said.

The Ontario Living Wage Network suggests the living wage for the Greater Toronto Area is $23.15 an hour.