Premier Doug Ford is planning to boost Ontario’s minimum wage to $15 per hour next year, CTV News has learned.
Ford is planning an increase to the minimum wage that will take effect on Jan. 1, sources confirmed to CTV News Toronto Monday evening.
Former premier Kathleen Wynne had planned to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2019, but the Progressive Conservatives scrapped that plan in 2018 and said the minimum wage would instead rise by the rate of inflation starting in Oct. 2020.
The current minimum wage sits at $14.35 per hour.
The change, first reported by The Toronto Star, is expected to be announced tomorrow.
When the Progressive Conservative government scrapped the increase, they said minimum wage earners would benefit from the government’s new Low-income Individuals and Families Tax credit instead. However Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office found that the tax credit would only benefit 38 per cent of low-income earners and that the wage increase would have been more helpful.
The move would reinstate the change three years late in an election year.
Current Liberal Leader Stephen De Duca was quick to snap back at the delayed boost Monday night.
“Doug Ford’s wage freeze in 2018 cost Ontario’s minimum wage earners $6200,” Del Duca wrote in a tweet. “Seven months before an election, now that he’s desperate for votes, @fordnation’s finally ending his fight against minimum wage workers. #onpoli”
Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath said $15 per hour is no longer good enough and that Ford should be raising the minimum wage even higher.
“Doug Ford chose to take over $5,000 out of the pockets of minimum wage earners by canceling their wage increase,” she wrote in a tweet Monday. “He needs to give it back. That means a meaningful increase to the living wage — because $15 an hour just won’t cut it anymore. #ONpoli”
Ryan Mallough, Senior Director of Provincial Affairs for Ontario for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), told CP24 that businesses are shocked by the move and that it was made without any consultation.
“I think it’s difficult news for a lot of small business owners that have been pummeled over the last 20 months,” Mallough said. “I mean, the situation in Ontario right now – only 37 per cent of businesses are at normal revenue levels for this time of year. We are heading into a crucial holiday season where confidence is in the same place where it was at this time last year when we were going into a fourth lockdown.
“You know, we’re hoping for a big holiday season, that people shop local, that they really support (businesses), but to have this come down as soon as it ends is going to be a very tough pill for a lot of businesses to swallow.”
He said businesses were already facing upward pressure on wages because of the pandemic.
“We were already, in our data, seeing upward pressure on wages,” Mallough said. “There is a labor crunch and a lot of sectors right now and businesses were having to look at higher wages in order to compete. This is going to take some of that flexibility away.”
– With files from Colin D’Mello and The Canadian Press