Thousands from across the province gathered at Queen's Park on Saturday as part of the Rally for Decent Work, which in addition to calling for labour rights, is also advocating for a $15 per hour minimum wage. According to Queen's Park security, more than 3,000 attended the event.
The rally coincided with Ontario raising its minimum wage to $11.40 per hour, up from the last increase in 2015 to $11.25. Alberta, P.E.I. and Saskatchewan also increased their minimum wage on Oct. 1 as well, and Alberta has already pledged to bring its minimum wage to $15 by 2018.
"We have people in the province of Ontario working two and three minimum wage jobs just to keep the wolves away from their front door, and at the end of the week, they're going to food banks to feed themselves and their families," Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) president Chris Buckley told CBC News.
The 15 cent increase is tied to Ontario's consumer price index, the main measure of inflation in the province.
The government raised the minimum wage to $11 in 2014 — then an increase of 75 cents — which marked the first time the benchmark wage had gone up since 2010.
"To the critics out there who say they can't afford a $15 an hour minimum wage or it's going to result in job loss, I would say show us some proof," Buckley added, saying small businesses that cannot afford a higher wage should talk to the province to work out a solution.
The Rally for Decent Work also marks the the start of Decent Work Week, and the event was organized by the OFL and its community partner Fight for $15 and Fairness.