Ontario’s top government official introduced a plan Tuesday to increase the minimum wage and rework labor laws in the province to help support vulnerable workers.
Premier Kathleen Wynne’s plan calls to increase Ontario’s minimum wage from its current level at $8.47 USD, to $10.40 USD per hour by 2018. Under Wynne’s proposal, the minimum wage would increase again to $11.14 USD in 2019, and continue to increase to keep pace with inflation.
“This is not the time for government to brush aside your struggles and cling to the status quo,” Wynne said during remarks at a question and answer event Tuesday. “This is the time to move forward toward a better way, a better life, and a better future.”
A press release from Wynne’s office says Ontario’s economy has outpaced “all G7 countries in terms of real GDP growth.” But Wynne says the nature of work has changed, and many Ontario workers now rely on part-time or contract work. The legislative proposal would also mandate that temporary and part-time workers earn the same wage as full-time workers who have the same job.
Leaders of the Ontario business community have expressed concerns about Wynne’s plan, which comes on the heels of a government-commissioned two-year review of Ontario labor laws.
Karl Baldauf with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce says he’s “very concerned” about the initiatives Wynne outlined. He says Ontario’s Liberal Government hasn’t adequately studied the economic impact of raising the minimum wage and other changes proposed by Wynne.
Wynne read from a letter she said was sent to her by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce during Tuesday’s question and answer event. She quoted, “The goals of economic growth and improved employee rights are not mutually exclusive.”
“I completely agree with that,” Wynne said. “We have to make sure businesses have what they need to keep growing, and we also have to make sure that everyone in the province can benefit from that growth.”
Wynne says she wants to have the proposed legislation introduced in the coming days, and hopes to have it passed “as quickly as possible.”