After remaining frozen at $10.25 for the last four years, Ontario’s minimum wage will be increased to $11 per hour, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi announced on January 30, 2014. The increase would tie Ontario with Nunavut as the Canadian jurisdiction with the highest minimum wage. Still, many advocates had been pushing for minimum wage of $14 so that someone working 35 hours a week would earn 10 per cent above the poverty line, which is currently of $23,000 a year.
The government’s announcement comes the same week as its own Minimum Wage Advisory Panel provided its own recommendations for the minimum wage, including tying the wage to inflation. In total, the panel presented the Labour Minister with four recommendations:
- Recommendation #1: Minimum wages should be revised annually by a percentage equal to the percent change in the Ontario Consumer Price Index.
- Recommendation #2: Minimum wages should be revised annually, and a minimum of four months’ notice of any wage change should be provided. The effective date of minimum wage changes should be April 1 of the following year. This would result in notification by December 1 of the previous year.
- Recommendation #3: The Government should undertake a full review of the minimum wage rate and the revision process every five years. This review should be conducted by a panel of stakeholders and a neutral chair. The mandate of this Panel would be to review Ontario’s past experience with minimum wage revisions within the context of Ontario’s social and economic progress and prevailing practices in other jurisdictions to recommend changes that could better serve Ontario’s future needs.
- Recommendation #4: To aid the full review process, and to ensure that Ontario’s minimum wage policies are in step with the needs of its citizens, the Government should establish an ongoing research program for data and information gathering and its subsequent analysis to address policy-relevant minimum wage issues.
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario has been pleased to contribute to the dialogue on raising the minimum wage in Ontario. Working in partnership with CMHA Brant, CMHA Hastings, CMHA Halton Region, CMHA Ottawa, CMHA Sault Ste. Marie and CMHA Sudbury/Manitoulin, CMHA Ontario submitted recommendations to the Minimum Wage Advisory Panel in October 2013 and called on the provincial government to increase the wage incrementally to 10 percent above the poverty line by 2018.
Read more about CMHA Ontario’s submission to the Minimum Wage Advisory Panel.