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Minimum wage laws set to change

Published: June 7, 2017

BY JENNIFER PARSONS

Minimum wage workers in Ontario are poised to receive a four dollar increase in their wage if the Liberal’s Fair Workplaces, Better Job Act passes Queen’s Park later this year.

The proposed legislation announced last week would phase in a minimum wage increase that will see the rate hit $15 per hour by January 2019.

“Millions of workers in Ontario are finding it almost impossible to support their families on a minimum wage that just doesn’t go far enough,” said Premier Kathleen Wynne of the announcement made on May 31.

“It’s time this rate reflected the reality of people’s lives. Raising the minimum wage is about creating a fairer, more equal society where everyone gets to share in our province’s economic growth.”

Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell said in an interview last week she supported the increase noting the increase is “a start.”

“Really what it comes down to is a fundamental matter of fairness. I personally believe that no worker should be living in poverty and people deserve a living wage. We need to have respect for the work that people do.”

The government’s plan to increase the minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018, and $15 per hour on January 1, 2019, followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation. The current rate is $11.40. The plan also addresses student wages, which would increase by $3.40 in 2019, and liquor servers who would see their base rate begin at $13.05.

Leaders in the business community were quick to question the increase noting small businesses are struggling with tight margins that are going to get tighter with the higher staff cost.

Campbell countered the concerns last week noting studies have countered the argument. 

“One of the main concerns that people have expressed is by increasing the minimum wage that that will put some jobs in jeopardy but there have been a number of studies that have looked at increases in the minimum wage over decades and decades and they have found that there is no correlation and in fact there is actually a net benefit because more money circulating in our economies means there is more money to spread around.”

The proposed legislation also includes equal pay for equal work provisions for casual, part-time temporary and seasonal employees, new rules for work scheduling and overtime pay and mandatory vacation allocations. 

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