Tuesday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne officially announced a plan that would see the province’s minimum wage increased to $15 by 2019.
“The economy has changed. Work has changed,” Wynne said in a statement. “It’s time our laws and protections for workers changed too.
Employees can expect the minimum wage to be raised to $14 per hour on Jan. 1, 2018 before the government phases in the last dollar in Jan. 2019. After that, minimum wage will be increased annually at the rate of inflation.
The province is also mandating equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual, and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees. This is a critical statement to make, as too often changes to employment laws only affect full-time workers, leaving those struggling in short-term contracts behind.
Other changes to the Ontario’s employment and labour laws include:
- Increasing vacation time to at least three weeks after five years within a company
- Managing that employees be paid for three hours of work if a shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its scheduled start time
- Employees can refuse shifts without repercussion if asked with less than four days notice
- Expanding personal emergency leave to include two paid days per year for all workers
There will also be some slight changes to union laws, which will establish card-based certification for temporary workers, among other things.
It’s still unclear how the business community will respond to this announcement, but most employees living on the current minimum wage will be supporting it. At the current minimum wage, a full-time employee will make on average $23,712. As Women’s Post has previously mentioned, this kind of salary (especially considering the state of the real estate market) doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room to pay for anything other than shelter, transportation, and amenities.
This will also give the Liberal party a leg up come the next provincial election. The $15 minimum wage is a big political issue for millennials and other young people venturing out into the working world. The timing of this announcement, along with the Liberal’s plan for free prescription medicine for those under the age of 25, is no accident.
NOTE: the NDP came out with a plan to increase minimum wage to $15 prior to the provincial budget release.