Minimum wage hike worries

Dianna Christensen
June 1, 2017

The CBC says Premier Kathleen Wynne is announcing a plan to increase the minimum wage in Ontario to $15 an hour.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Labour Minister Kevin Flynn are scheduled to detail the changes after receiving recommendations last week of a government-commissioned report aimed at creating better workplaces.

The report concluded that new technology, a shrinking manufacturing sector and fewer union jobs, among other factors, have left approximately one-third of Ontario's 6.6 million workers vulnerable.

In a press release, the Wynne government says exports and business investments are increasing and the unemployment rate is at a 16-year low, but the nature of work has changed, leaving workers struggling to support their families on part-time, contract or minimum-wage work.

In 2016, Niagara Region's Ontario Works program was $1.3 million in the red due to unexpected demand for so-called discretionary programs - social programs that help pay for rent, utilities or medical bills.

The Ontario government is raising the minimum wage without taking heed of the move's economic impact, the head of the area's biggest business group warned Tuesday. We are calling on the government to fully implement the priorities set out on behalf of Ontario workers by the labour movement.

Among the most notable changes proposed in the new legislation is the requirement that after five years with the same employer, the minimum vacation entitlement for workers would rise to three weeks per year. It will rise with inflation, as scheduled, from $11.40 now to $11.60 in October.

Flynn said that even though some of the changes - including the $15 minimum wage and rules concerning work scheduling - will come to into force after the next election, they're not contingent on the Liberals being re-elected.

"That in itself is not a bad thing", said Wynne.

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And local small business owners are anxious the higher minimum wage will force them to change their hours of operation or price their products higher, added Markovich.

The minimum wage today stands at $11.40 an hour.

As well as moving forward with legislation on the issues identified in the changing workplaces review, the government must set a $15 minimum wage immediately across the province.

The first increase would represent a 23% hike over the current minimum wage; the second hike would represent a 32% over the current minimum wage.

If Ontario's proposal goes through, as of January 1, 2018, minimum wage in Ontario will be the highest in Canada.

"We're very pleased that the government has re-affirmed a worker's right to join a union through card-based certification in certain sectors", said Rizvi.

"Working people have told the government what they need to see from the Changing Workplaces Review", said OFL President Chris Buckley.

Extending Personal Emergency Leave to all workers and ensuring that it is not combined with any other leave. "This is money that gets spent and invested right back in the community".

With the labour activists and her patrons cheering the new wage hike, Premier Wynne in a campaign-style setting, said, "Right now, 10 per cent of workers in our province earn the minimum wage of $11.40".

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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