How Will Canadian Minimum Wage Increases Affect Workers


‘Last Saturday, October 8, saw thousands rally at Toronto’s Queen’s Park for a $15 per hour minimum wage and other workers’ rights. This was part of the Rally for Decent Work, which was attended by workers from all over the province of Ontario, Canada. Queen’s Park security said about 3,000 were estimated to have been in attendance.

Organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), the rally coincides with the start of Decent Work Week. It was co-organized with the Fight for $15 and Fairness group.

The rally was meant to protest Ontario’s raising the minimum wage from $11.25 to $11.40, up by $0.15 per hour which was implemented in 2015. The increase is computed based Ontario’s consumer price index, used by the province to measure inflation. On October 1, the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island had increased their minimum wage. In addition, Alberta has also pledged that it will increase its minimum wage again in 2018 to $15 per hour.

The movement’s leaders said that they wanted the increase the minimum wage to $15.00 to help those who are already working more than one “minimum wage jobs” and still need assistance with food banks to feed their families. This was stated by OFL President Chris Buckley in an interview with CBC News. Buckley challenged critics that say they can’t afford $15 minimum wage, to show proof that this will result in loss of jobs. He also added that businesses which cannot afford the proposed minimum wage should talk to the provincial government for a possible solution.

The $15 minimum wage refers to the general minimum wage. This applies to most of the working population. There are also separate wage rates for students, liquor servers, hunting and fishing guides, and homeworkers. Homeworkers are defined as those who stay at home while working for a company. Students who are homeworkers are entitled to the latter’s rate, which is higher than the general minimum wage.

The minimum wage is subject to an annual indexation. If there is a change in the minimum wage rate, the new rate will be posted on April 1, to take effect on October 1. The consumer price index for the province is used as the basis for the minimum wage. This is considered as a basket of basic consumer commodities, and computed according to the prevailing prices, and the amount that a person consumes. There are eight components to the index, and the CPI is computed on a regular basis for economic planning, and in this case, for salary adjustments as well.

Labour problems are not only prevalent in Canada and other countries.  We spoke with one Atlanta workers compensation attorney about the matter,

“an increase in minumum wage is essential throughout North American considering that since 2002 we have seen a 22.4% increase in the price of common goods, this is compounded by the fact that tuition prices have also soared.”

The OFL may have to wait a while until measures are implemented to address the situation. In the meantime, the rules on indexed minimum wage means that a drop in the economy might be the only reason for an increase. This is the a major limitation of indexed minimum wage rates.

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