Reminder: Minimum wage was not raised to $15 on January 1

Jan 2 2019, 9:55 pm

For many, minimum wage was set to increase to $15/hour on January 1, 2019. But that isn’t the case today.

Premier Doug Ford’s government halted the planned increase in the fall of last year.

In Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018, the province eliminated an increase to the minimum wage as of January 1. The Bill was also amended to provide that the minimum wage “is subject to an annual inflation adjustment on October 1 of every year starting in 2020.”

In November 2017, major labour reform laws were officially passed by the previous government, a move that was intended to bring fairness to Ontario workplaces and create more security and opportunity for vulnerable workers and their families.

The first changes to the Act would see the province’s minimum wage increase, first to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018 (which did take place) and then to $15 on January 1, 2019, followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation.

Opposition leader Andrea Horwath condemned Ford’s scrapping of the wage increase at the time.

“Instead of Ford’s plan to drag Ontario backwards, we could be making life better for working Ontarians — like making sure everyone gets a $15 minimum wage, guaranteeing paid leave for victims of domestic violence, and providing sick time,” she wrote.

“One government after another has left Ontario’s workforce without the improvements they deserve and need to build safer, more equitable workplaces and a better work-life balance. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Instead, the province has introduced what it’s calling “one of the most generous Ontario tax cuts for low-income workers in a generation.”

“The vast majority of low-income workers would pay no Ontario Personal Income Tax at all,” stated the government in November.

The new Low-income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit would benefit 1.1 million people across the province, and it would provide low-income and minimum wage workers up to $850 in Ontario Personal Income Tax relief and couples up to $1,700.

With this, a single person who works full time at minimum wage (earning nearly $30,000 annually) would pay no Ontario Personal Income Tax. Tax relief would be gradually reduced for taxpayers with individual incomes greater than $30,000, and family incomes greater than $60,000, according to the province.

The tax credit is effective starting today, January 1, 2019.

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