Ontario Premier Doug Ford reinstates the minimum wage increase to $ 15

Prime Minister Doug Ford announced on Tuesday that his government plans to reintroduce a minimum wage increase, which he canceled three years ago.

At a news conference in Milton on Tuesday morning, Ford said the province plans to increase the minimum wage in Ontario from $ 14.35 to $ 15 by next year.

“This change would mean that a minimum wage full-time employee could see an increase of $ 1,350 a year. This change would also make liquor servers and the hospitality sector treated more fairly by raising their minimum wage from $ 12.55 to $ 15 per hour,” he said. Ford journalists.

“As a result of these changes, more than 760,000 Ontario workers will receive a pay rise. I can not imagine a better way for our government to work for workers.”

A minimum wage of $ 15 was to take effect in 2019 in a plan developed by the former Liberal government, but Ford suspended it when he took office and instead tied wage increases beyond $ 14 to annual inflation.

He also passed a low-income tax deduction, which he said could effectively exempt full-time minimum wages from paying provincial income tax.

However, an independent analysis showed that the tax deduction left all minimum wage earners worse off than they would have been with a minimum wage of $ 15.

When asked why the province stopped the planned wage increase when his government took office, Ford announced his government’s introduction of low-income families and individual tax deductions (LIFT).

“When we joined, we gave a LIFT tax deduction. Anyone under $ 28,000 pays zero tax. We have one of the lowest personal income taxes in the entire country that other provinces do not have,” he said.

“We got the economy going again, I want to remind people that this province was in a financial disaster.”

The independent Financial Accountability Office also found in 2019 that the LIFT tax deduction did not benefit 68 percent of people earning the minimum wage.

Canada’s annual inflation rate has hit generational highs of between four and five percent in recent months, making wages and purchasing power a major concern for many Canadians.

Deena Ladd, CEO of Workers’ Action Center, told CP24 on Tuesday that it is clear to her that Ford realizes he has made mistakes in how his government treats workers.

“This should have been in place three years ago in 2019, he also took paid sick days and many other protections that would have made workers safer in a pandemic.”

“This is a complete election trick, we are eight months away. I think the Prime Minister knows he was wrong and needs to rectify it.”

Unifor National President Jerry Dias, who joined Ford for the announcement on Tuesday, said that although the increase does not represent a living wage in Ontario, “it is a good start.”

“First of all, I think we need to have a living wage. To get a living wage of $ 22 in Toronto, you have to go through $ 15,” he said.

“A living wage in London, Ont. Is around $ 16.20. So I think $ 15 is wonderful? The answer is no. But I think it’s a good start? The answer is yes, while we continue to push and fight for a living wage. ”

Dan Kelly, president and chief executive of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, criticized the Ford government’s decision Tuesday, suggesting that the Ford government “has completely lost its way in terms of small business policy.”

“This is the government that locked down small retailers while allowing Costco and Walmart to stay open during the pandemic … To now raise the minimum wage while small businesses basically hang on to nails is just so deeply insulting,” he said.

“I do not understand where the Ford government is, other than openly fighting for an election victory.”

–With files from CP24’s Josh Freeman and CTV News Toronto’s Colin D’Mello

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