Ontario’s first legislated cost of living adjustment to the minimum wage takes effect October 1.
With indexation, workers have won an important milestone, but we still need at least $15 an hour. A new leaflet explaining the changes is available here.
“The fact we have a legislated cost of living adjustment is a testament to the pressure brought to bear on our provincial government by union and non-union workers across Ontario,” says Sid Ryan, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour. “It means that minimum wage earnings will not fall as far behind as they have in the past when the minimum wage could be frozen for years at a time.”
“This 25¢ adjustment is not the same as a wage increase,” says Deena Ladd, coordinator of the Workers’ Action Centre. “It’s a mechanism to prevent workers from falling even further below the poverty line. Whenever the minimum wage is frozen, it amounts to a pay cut for workers.” Between 1995 and 2004, when Ontario’s general minimum wage was frozen, it lost more than 20% of its purchasing power. When it was frozen again between 2010 and 2014, it lost nearly 10% of its purchasing power.
Even at $11.25 an hour, Ontario’s minimum wage leaves a full-time worker almost 20% below the poverty line. The Fight for $15 and Fairness continues to call for a minimum wage that provides full-time workers with income that is at least 10% above the poverty line, as well as changes that would bring fairness to workplaces across the province.
Not since 1976 has Ontario’s minimum wage provided earnings that bring full-time workers above the poverty line, notes a new report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Today, nearly 30% of Ontario workers earn less than $15 an hour. Read the story by the Toronto Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh here.
“All workers, whether they are covered by federal or provincial labour laws, need at least $15 an hour,” says Ryan. “But we also need important legislative changes to make sure that workers have decent hours, fair scheduling, equal pay, seven days of paid sick leave – and the right to form unions to help make this happen.”