Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is expected to announce minimum wage increases this week. An advisory panel recommended annual increases tied to inflation. (Photo: REUTERS/Mark Blinch)
In Ontario, the minimum wage is $10.25 per hour. That number hasn't budged since 2010. But earlier today, an advisory panel recommended that the wage should increase every year, based on inflation.
That could start as early as this year, as Premiere Kathleen Wynne is expected to make an official wage increase announcement later this week. Even with the raise, it likely won't come close to the $14 per hour currently being called for by health care workers.
The recommendation comes amidst growing concern over minumum wages not just in Ontario, but around the world. In Britain, politicians on both sides of the aisle are advocating reform, and wages there are likely to rise this year too (it's currently set at £6.31, or about $11.61 in Canadian dollars).
In the United States, the issue is more complicated. Each state officially sets its own minimum wage, though the federal government currently sets the absolute minimum at $7.25 per hour. As of this week, at least 30 states are pushing for wage hikes, according to the Associated Press. President Obama, who has been trying to raise it to $10.10, is expected to raise the issue prominentlu in the State of the Union address tomorrow night.
In Canada, minimum wage differs by province, with Alberta coming in at the low end ($9.95) and Nunavut coming out at the top ($11). Here's the current breakdown:
Newfoundland and Labrador: $10.00
New Brunswick: $10.00
Prince Edward Island: $10.00
Northwest Territories: $10.00
British Columbia: $10.25
Nova Scotia: $10.30
Ontario's proposed increase would once again make it one of the highest in the country. Canada's average is still pretty high compared to other countries (except maybe Australia's $16.37, or $15.87 in Canadian dollars). But as this helpful chart from The Atlantic points out, once you rate minimum wages based on Purchasic Power Parity — a fancy economics term that readjusts actual incomes based on cost of living — Canada doesn't stack up so well at all, rating just above the U.S.
Deena Ladd of the Workers’ Action Centre, one of the chief proponents of a minimum wage hike, thinks Ontario's move to link minimum wage with inflation is a good start. "It’s an important way of making sure the minimum wage doesn’t fall behind," she says. "At the end of the day, it’s up to government to take leadership to ensure that someone who is working full time is living out of poverty. It’s only fair.”