Ontario increasing minimum wage effective June 1, 2014

ONTARIO—Last week it was announced that Ontario is increasing the minimum wage from $10.25 to $11 per hour on June 1, 2014. This new rate reflects the rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) since the last minimum wage increase in 2010, but not everyone is singing its praises.

Ontario’s current minimum wage is set at $10.25/hour (since 2010).

The government will also introduce legislation that would tie future minimum wage increases to the CPI. This will ensure the minimum wage keeps up with the cost of living, and that increases are predictable for businesses and families, a press release from the province states. Under the proposed legislation, increases would be announced by April 1 and come into effect on October 1.

The proposed legislation would act on the recommendations of Ontario’s Minimum Wage Advisory Panel, which included business, labour, youth and anti-poverty representatives.

“Increasing the minimum wage will help improve the standard of living for hardworking people across the province, while ensuring that businesses have the predictability necessary to plan for the future,” Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, said on a press release following the announcement.

The Expositor spoke with Manitoulin Chrysler proprietor and president of the Manitoulin Chamber of Commerce, Owen Legge, at his Mindemoya business following the announcement.

“It’s like everything else—they’re forcing us not to hire,” Mr. Legge said, speaking as a small business owner. “They should be topping salaries to hire more youth.”

Mr. Legge said he couldn’t understand the disparity between Canada’s soon-to-be minimum wage and America’s minimum wage of $7.25/hour (last set in July 2009).

“You’ve got to factor in labour, the rising price of commodities—the buck has to stop somewhere,” he said. “It’s a struggle here on Manitoulin and businesses struggle more and more to get by because we don’t have as many customers as they do in big cities. The Chamber of Commerce, Manitoulin Living and the Manitoulin Tourism Association are all working to get more people to move to Manitoulin to support these businesses.”

Mr. Legge noted that many Island businesses are already struggling to “hit that bottom line” and this will only add to that problem.