Ontario’s minimum wage is set to increase to $15 an hour on January 1, 2019. On that day, Ontario’s minimum wage will finally bring a full-time minimum-wage earner above the poverty line. This is just one of many important protections workers won in legislation – the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act – adopted last year.
But having a new law doesn’t mean workers’ rights are secure. The Conservative government under Doug Ford might decide to stop the $15 minimum wage and cancel the fair scheduling rules the same way it cut the planned increase in social assistance rates and scrapped the basic income pilot project, upon which thousands of families were depending.
That’s why workers across the province will continue to mobilize to ensure the rights that they won are enacted, on schedule, in their workplaces. The fight for $15 and fairness won’t stop until workers are being paid decently and have fair treatment in the workplace.
“Minimum-wage earners, even working full time, still fall below the poverty line,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley. “Workers have fought to get these increases. There are families across this province that have been counting on that January 1 increase. The labour movement won’t sit and watch the government of the day push minimum-wage workers into poverty like that.”
The fact is that even if the $15 minimum wage is implemented, there will still be far too many Ontarians who are excluded from that wage – with students and liquor servers earning a lower hourly rate.
“Everyone should be able to make a decent living working full time,” said Fight for $15 and Fairness Coordinator Deena Ladd. “Workers across this province are committed to getting this wage increase and ready to fight for it, especially when this government is shamefully cutting other benefits that low-income Ontarians depend on.”
Low-wage workers and some employers themselves are ready to step up to defend this much-needed increase to wages.
“Workers who are decently paid are more invested in the work they’re doing and more likely to stay. In our company, we have low turnover and it’s good for our bottom line,” said Gilleen Pearce, owner of Walk My Dog Toronto, a pet services company with eight employees. She is also a member of the Better Way Alliance, a growing network of employers who believe fair labour laws are good for business as well as workers.
Each year, a minimum wage of $15/hour will put an extra $1,950 in the pockets of low-wage workers who work 37.5 hours a week. The tax cut promised by Doug Ford will only give them back $485.
Taking away this much-needed minimum wage will hurt Ontarians who need this increase the most.
Ontario’s labour movement will continue fighting for $15 and fairness to ensure that all Ontarians have decent work with decent pay, as well as fair treatment in the workplace.