March 18, 2016

Ontario workers need more than a 15 cent adjustment – We need a $15 minimum wage

Now is the time to speak up for a $15 minimum wage for all workers.
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Today, the Ministry of Labour announced that Ontario’s general minimum wage would be adjusted upward by 15 cents an hour to keep up with rising prices. To be clear, this measure does not increase the minimum wage, it merely helps maintain the original $11.00 value that was established in 2014 by the Ontario government — thanks to the workers who organized for this important win two years ago.

However, then, as now, workers need far more than $11.00 or $12.00 an hour. Workers need at least $15 hourly to make ends meet in a full-time job. Workers also need a series of other important legislative measures to improve work and wages in this province.

Indexation was a key demand of the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage and is an important achievement, given that Ontario’s minimum wage has been frozen for 12 of the 20 years between 1995 and 2015.

Nevertheless, it is widely recognized that the Consumer Price Index — an average measurement of rising prices for consumer goods — does not quite reflect the way in which workers in low-income employment experience rising prices. For instance, low-income households tend to spend a greater portion of their income on food than on other consumer goods and the current 15% to 20% increase in the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables disproportionately affects those at the lower end of the income scale.

For this reason, the Fight for $15 & Fairness is renewing its call for a $15 minimum wage for all Ontario workers, regardless of their age, student status, job or sector of employment.

The Ontario government should use the occasion of the Changing Workplaces Review to re-set the province’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, and ensure a wage that lifts workers with 35 hours or more of work each week 10% above the poverty line. Ontario workers deserve nothing less.

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