Ontario to raise minimum wage and update labour laws, premier says

31 May 2017, 05:03 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks at the Ford Essex Engine Plant in Windsor Ont. on Thursday

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks at the Ford Essex Engine Plant in Windsor Ont. on Thursday

In announcing the changes, Premier Wynne said, "It has always been a challenge to raise a family on a minimum-wage job, but in recent years, it has become nearly impossible, and the reality is more and more people are having to do it".

Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said the government will table legislation on the labour law changes this week, before the house rises for the summer. It will rise, as scheduled, with inflation from $11.40 now to $11.60 in October.

Ms. Wynne highlighted three other key points.

Alberta also plants to raise its wage to C$15 in October 2018.

"It has always been a challenge to raise a family on a minimum wage job. but in recent years it has become nearly impossible", Wynne said. "This policy change is being 100 per cent paid for by businesses, and we need to start asking what is the responsibility of business and what is the responsibility of government".

The changes to provincial labour laws come in response to a government-commissioned report - released last week - that made 173 recommendations aimed at creating better workplaces with decent working conditions.

Manitoba: $11. The government plans to raise it every year along with the rate of inflation.

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"While our union welcomes the government's decision to introduce labour law reforms that UFCW has always been calling for, we will continue to push for additional reforms that will help strengthen Ontario's economy by better protecting those facing precarious working conditions and empowering workers who are struggling to get by", says Paul Meinema, the National President of UFCW Canada.

Personal emergency leave will be expanded to include an across-the-board minimum of at least two paid days per year for all workers.

In 2016, the median hourly wage was $13 for part-time workers and $24.73 for full-time workers. The campaign gives voice to unions' demands for across-the-board changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act that would improve standards for every worker and make it easier for them to join a union. "Today's really a good day for the little guy".

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) and a new coalition of employer groups that includes the Ontario Chamber of Commerce issued statements objecting to the proposals. "Small businesses, who don't share the larger profit margins of big business, will be forced to make hard choices".

Flynn said there is evidence a higher minimum wage can benefit economies and lead to job growth.

"This money that goes to bread, it goes to diapers, it goes to bus fares, it goes to rent", he said. The province also plans to extend card check certification to temporary workers and employees in the home care and building service sectors, and has pledged to enact measures that provide Ontario workers with more stable schedules. "But we know that the sector going through the most changes right now is retail because many purchases are being made online, and that money is going to China or the United States or wherever a product is being sold online".

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