$15 minimum wage moves one step closer to becoming reality

Oct 18 2017, 7:11 pm

Minimum wage is one step closer to increasing to $15.

On Wednesday, Bill 148 known as the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 passed second reading in the Ontario Legislature, reaching it’s final step before becoming law.

If passed, the bill would see a minimum raise increase to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018, and then $15 per hour on January 1, 2019 followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation.

January’s increase would be the second minimum wage increase in three months. On October 1, Ontario’s minimum wage went up to $11.60 per hour, a 20 cent raise from the previous $11.40, marking its fourth consecutive year for an increase.

These raises would be happening despite several economists warning against how fast the government is moving.

According to an economic assessment report by TD Bank, raising the minimum wage to $15 can generate benefits to the province, but the speed in which its being implemented will likely have a negative impact on employment. The report states that the minimum wage hike could cost the province between 80,000 to 90,000 jobs by 2020.

Similar to TD Bank’s report, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) said that the wage hike would result in a loss off about 50,000 jobs, in a report assessing the impact of the wage increase in the province, and also warned that higher payroll costs may result in layoffs for businesses.

TD Economics encourage the Ontario government to consider extending the implementation period by at least two years, to 2021, to reduce impact on the economy.

It’s also recommending the introduction of differentiated minimum wage across the province. In the Toronto area, a minimum wage of $15 would maintain a ratio relative to average income in the 50-60% range, TD stated as an example. But in Windsor, where a larger impact would occur, a $11-$12 level would be more appropriate.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) backed the FAO’s report last month, and called out for the province to stop the increase, saying that the report reinforces the need to halt the “reckless” minimum wage plan.

But according to the province, studies show that a higher minimum wage results in less employee turnover, which increases business productivity. And so far, it looks like it’s on track to pass the labour bill.

Besides the raise in minimum wage, the provincial bill would also mandate equal pay for part-time, temporary, and casual employees doing the same job as full-time employees. It would also expand personal emergency leave to 10 days, with a minimum of at least two paid days per year.

“Ontario workers deserve fair wages and safe working conditions,” said Kevin Flynn , Minister of Labour, in a statement. “If passed, Bill 148 will help ensure everyone who works hard has the chance to reach their full potential and share in Ontario’s prosperity.”

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