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'It's a starvation wage': Ontario's minimum wage increase panned by critics, falls short of true cost of living in province

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On Tuesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that on Jan. 1, 2022, the province will increase minimum wage to $15 an hour, from $14.35.

"Ontario’s workers have been the unsung heroes of this pandemic, as they’ve stocked shelves, kept our supply chain moving and helped so many of us enjoy a meal among family and friends at a local restaurant," a statement from Ford reads. 

"When we asked labour leaders what their priorities were, increasing the minimum wage was at the top of the list. As the cost of living continues to go up, our government is proud to be working for workers, putting more money into their pockets by increasing the minimum wage."

Since the announcement, some have been pointing to the difference between minimum wage and living wage, particularly in popular cities like Toronto.

The Ontario Living Wage Network (OLWN) defines living wage as being reflective of "what people need to earn to cover the actual costs of living in their community," calculated based on needs of a family of four with two parents, each working full-time for the full year.

According to the OLWN, these are the living waged in key regions of Ontario:

  • Durham Region: $17.80

  • Guelph: $18.10

  • Haldimand Norfolk: $17.35

  • Halton: $20.75

  • Hamilton: $17.20

  • Hastings Prince Edward: $17.95

  • Kingston: $17.75

  • Leeds, Grenville, Lanark Counties: $18.25

  • London: $16.55

  • Muskoka: $18.55

  • Niagara Region: $18.90

  • Norththumberland County: $18.80

  • Ottawa: $18.60

  • Peel: $19.80

  • Perth and Huron: $17.95

  • Peterborough: $18.35

  • Renfrew: $17.40

  • Sault Ste. Marie: $16.20

  • Sudbury: $16.98

  • Simcoe County: $19.05

  • Thunder Bay: $16.30

  • Toronto: $22.08

  • Waterloo Region: $17.20

This is how Ontario's minimum wage will compare to other provinces in Canada:

  • Alberta: $15.00

  • British Columbia: $15.20

  • Manitoba: $11.95

  • New Brunswick: $11.75

  • Newfoundland & Labrador: $12.75

  • Nova Scotia $12.95

  • Prince Edward Island: $13.00

  • Quebec: $13.50

  • Saskatchewan: $11.81

Some have also pointed out that this change comes after Ford initially scrapped the plan by the previous Liberal provincial government, under Kathleen Wynne, to have a $15 an hour minimum wage.

Some have also expressed that increases minimum at this time will caused increased struggle for some sectors, particularly restaurants, who have been hard-hit from the pandemic.

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