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You work hard for your money, so isn’t it nice when a payday comes around? Well, if you’re a minimum wage worker in Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne is about to make your payday a lot better. That’s because Wynne announced on Tuesday that the minimum wage is about to go up significantly… and we’re not just talking about the 20 cent jump that was previous planned for October.

Sure, minimum wage was supposed to increase to $11.60 an hour this fall, but in the pretty near future — January 2018 to be exact — it’s about to go up even more (to 14 whole bucks an hour). That minimum will then jump to $15 an hour in January 2019, making Ontario and Alberta (which was the first province to announce a $15 increase) the highest paying provinces in the country.

“People are working longer, jobs are less secure, benefits are harder to come by and protections are fewer and fewer,” Wynne said when making the announcement. “In a time of change like this, when the very nature of work is being transformed, we need to make certain that our workers are treated fairly.”

Even better news for people who get paid minimum wage is that pay will increase with inflation after that — and here we remember working for a mere $6.40 an hour back in our day, which really wasn’t that long ago.

These announcements were made in conjunction with The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, which is specifically crafted to improve working conditions for part-time and contract workers in Ontario. The recommendations in the act were made after a two-year study, so obviously a lot of thought has been put into it. Some of the other changes within that act that haven’t been getting as many headlines include:

  • Employees who have been with their companies for five years will now be entitled to a minimum of three weeks vacation per year.
  • All employees will be entitled to 10 personal days throughout the year (two of which will be paid for).
  • Shift workers whose shifts are cancelled with less than 48 hours notice are still entitled to three hours of pay.
  • There will be equal pay for part-time and full-time workers doing the same job.

Obviously people who work for minimum wage have been pretty thrilled with the news since it was announced, but what about small business owners? This change means that, on average, each employee will cost them roughly $7,000 more to employ per year. That kind of cash can add up for people who are used to just making ends meet.

Meanwhile, some critics of the bill have pointed out that at the end of the day it’s consumers who will see the most backlash from the wage increases, because owners are going to have to make up the costs elsewhere. The obvious way to do that is with the price of goods and services. Other critics have noted that places of employment like McDonald’s, which have started using machines in their storefronts, will probably just hire fewer people to staff their establishments, as they rely more and more on technology.

So… is this the wave of the future or a concerning new move? It’s too early to tell, but there are definitely compelling arguments on both sides. All we know is that right now the average hourly pay for a full-time worker in Canada is $27, and bumping up the minimum still only brings those workers to just over half of that. Hopefully this will help to even the playing field just a bit.

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