After two years of independent study and analysis of the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act, the Ontario government is ready to make some substantial changes. Chief among the changes is an increase to the minimum wage, which will rise to $14 per hour by January 1, 2018, and reach $15 per hour in 2019.
The minimum wage will be applied equally for all workers, including part-time, temporary and season employees that do the same work as full-timers. The announcement was made in a news release from the Office of the Premier.
Ontario’s economy has performed well over the past three years, but “The nature of work has changed,” says the release, and GDP performance is not translating to benefits for those supporting families on part-time, contract or minimum wage work.
The news release outlines further steps being taken to improve working conditions, including a minimum number of emergency days for all workers, and a minimum number of vacation days for long-time employees. Meanwhile, a force of over 175 employment standards officers will be hired to ensure businesses are meeting the new rules.
The government is positioning the plan as a way for workers of all classification to get ahead. The announcement comes on the heels of data showing that the cost of living is outpacing salary increases around the province.
The plan is not ironclad, of course. Rising salaries may lead to higher prices from businesses that now take on a greater financial burden, which could prevent income from catching or surpassing the cost of living. But because the wage increases will be staggered, coming over a two-year period, businesses will at least have time to adapt to higher operating costs.
Though the outcome of the increase will not be felt on a societal level for years to come, individuals that will receive a mandatory pay increase – and those receiving more sick days and vacation time – will certainly welcome the announcement.