Posted February 10, 2014
Minimum wage earners can expect something more on their paycheques come June 1, once a recent Ontario government decision comes into effect.
On Jan. 30, the province announced it would increase minimum wage from $10.25 to $11 an hour, following a recommendation made by an advisory panel made up of business, labour, youth and anti-poverty representatives. The province's minimum wage has been frozen since 2010.
As opposed to previous minimum wage hikes, this one will see the province tie any future increases to the rate of inflation.
The governing Liberals are expected to table legislation this month to achieve this goal.
"We wanted something that was fair, balanced, and predictable," said Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi, MPP for Ottawa Centre. "The advice from the panel (stated) the best way to increase minimum wage is to tie it to the cost of living."
The $11 figure represents what 2010's minimum wage would be today under observed rates of inflation, which amounts to a 7.3 per cent increase, said Naqvi.
Some groups have cried foul over the wage increase, among them the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, which said the increase will have an impact on restaurant's hiring practices, possibly leading to less young people receiving summer jobs in the industry.
Other groups, such as the antipoverty activist group ACORN, had advocated for a $14 minimum wage.
Naqvi said the concerns of all affected parties were taken into consideration by the panel.
"The advisory panel looked at (the restaurant issue) and found that the supporting evidence is inconclusive," he said, stressing that workers making a higher wage would translate into more money being spent at local businesses.
Naqvi added that after taxes, a full-time worker making $11 an hour would come out above the poverty line.
"Minimum wage is one of the tools to deal with poverty, but having a robust provincial poverty reduction strategy is important," said Naqvi.
The wage hike won't require legislation to enact, but tying the rate to inflation will require an amendment to the Employment Standards Act. Naqvi said he plans to introduce the legislation following the Family Day long weekend.
Article by Steph Willems for Ottawa Community News