Ontario's minimum wage just went up. Here's what you need to know
Nearly a million minimum wage earners in Ontario got a pay bump today.
On Oct. 1, Ontario's minimum wage, the lowest wage employers are permitted to pay their workers per hour, rose from $15.50 to $16.55, a 6.8 per cent increase.
For a person earning the general minimum wage and working 40 hours a week, that equates to an annual raise of about $2,200.
Here's what you need to know about the new minimum wage:
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE PAY BUMP?
Almost all workers in Ontario are eligible for minimum wage.
An estimated 900,000 employees received the increase Sunday, according to Ontario's Ministry of Labour, spanning a number of employment types. Full-time, part-time, and casual employees are all eligible, alongside those paid an hourly rate, a piece rate, a flat rate, by commission, or by salary.
A list of select jobs exempt from the minimum wage provisions can be found on the Ontario government’s website.
WHAT IF I’M MID-WAY THROUGH A PAY PERIOD ON OCT. 1?
If a pay increase occurs partway through your pay period, the province says that “the pay period will be treated as if it were two separate pay periods and the employee will be entitled to at least the minimum wage that applies in each of those periods.”
WHAT ABOUT SPECIAL MINIMUM WAGES?
The student minimum wage, which applies to people under the age of 18 who work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session or during summer holidays, will see an hourly increase of $1, from $14.60 to $15.60.
Homeworkers, who do paid work out of their own homes for employers, will see a minimum wage increase of $1.15, from $17.05 to $18.20.
Hunting, fishing, and wilderness guides will go from $77.60 to $82.85 per day when working less than five consecutive hours in a day, and $155.25 to $165.75 per day when working five or more hours in a day.
HOW HAS THE MINIMUM WAGE CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?
A $15 minimum wage was to take effect by 2019 in a plan developed by the previous Liberal government but Premier Doug Ford suspended that when he took office.
The province announced in 2021 that it would be boosting the minimum wage from $14.35 to $15 in January 2022. It was further bumped from $15 to $15.50 in October 2022.
Some labour advocates have called for the province to introduce a $20 minimum wage in Ontario.
“If Premier Ford had not canceled both the increase to $15 that was set for January 2019 and the cost of living adjustments for two years, we’d be much closer with a $17.95 minimum wage this year,” the Workers Action Centre wrote in a post back in March, when Sunday’s increase was first announced.
WILL ONTARIO’S MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE IN 2024?
According to the province, minimum wage rates stand to increase annually on Oct. 1. The province says that if new rates are to come into effect on Oct. 1, 2024, they will publicly announce so on or before April 1, 2024.
WHAT DOES THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY THINK?
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce said it is supportive of scheduled minimum wage increases tied to inflation rates as it “allows businesses time to prepare.”
“We support the principle of fair compensation and scheduled wage increases that are planned and done in close consultation with the business community so that businesses have time to plan and implement the changes,” Daniel Safayeni, the chamber’s vice-president of policy said in a written statement.
“We acutely recognize the affordability challenges faced by many workers who are struggling with the escalating cost of living. Ensuring the minimum wage keeps pace with rising inflation will help, in part, address affordability challenges at a time when Ontario is experiencing a record pace of net interprovincial migration losses.”
The statement went on to say that “amidst declining productivity,” wage increases must be accompanied by “greater investments from both the public and private sectors” to boost “productive capacity” and improve living standards for the residents of the province.
WHAT IS THE MINIMUM WAGE IN OTHER PARTS OF CANADA?
One province and one territory have higher minimum wage rates than Ontario. In B.C., the minimum wage is now $16.75 per hour and in the Yukon, it is $16.77.
Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have the lowest minimum wage rates at $14 and $14.75 respectively. Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, and Newfoundland and Labrador have all set the minimum wage at $15 per hour.
In Quebec, the lowest amount of money workers can be paid is $15.25 per hour, $0.05 lower than Manitoba’s minimum wage of $15.30. Nunavut has set its minimum wage at $16 per hour and in the Northwest Territories, the minimum wage is $16.05.
The federal minimum wage, which applies to federally regulated private sectors, including banks, postal and courier services, as well as interprovincial air, rail, road, and marine transportation, rose to $16.65 per hour on April 1, up from $15.55.
WHAT IS A LIVING WAGE?
Each year, the Ontario Living Wage Network analyzes the hourly earnings residents in the province would need to make in order to have an income that covers their cost of living. It found that the minimum wage in Ontario is significantly out of step with what is actually required to afford to live in the province.
In its latest report, the group discovered that in most regions of Ontario, the living wage was more than $19 an hour and more than $23 an hour in the Greater Toronto Area.
They noted that the calculations were made amid “a backdrop of record–breaking inflation and Consumer Price Index increases,” adding that “workers at the bottom end of the wage scale are most vulnerable to these kinds of fluctuations.”
“A living wage is an effective tool to combat working poverty by making sure that employees can make ends meet where they live,” the report stated.
“By incorporating expenses that a worker must cover, such as shelter, food, transportation and more, our living wages are much closer to reality than a politically set minimum wage.”
Another report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives this summer found that two minimum wage workers in Toronto would not earn enough to reasonably afford a one-bedroom apartment in the city.
“The discrepancy between the rental wage and the minimum wage is such that, in most Canadian cities, minimum-wage earners are extremely unlikely to escape core housing need,” the report read. “They are likely spending too much on rent, living in units that are too small, or, in many cases, both.”
With files from CP24's Codi Wilson.
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