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Minimum wage hike to $16.55 per hour kicks in today

The increase to $16.55 will have a substantial impact on nearly 1.4 million workers, particularly women, but it still isn’t enough says the Workers’ Action Centre
Minimum wage increased to $13.60 per hour on Oct. 1.

Starting today, Oct. 1, Ontario’s minimum wage will increase from $15.50 to $16.55 per hour.

The move affects more than 900,000 workers across the province.

"This 6.8 per cent raise means up to $2,200 more in workers’ pockets every year and brings Ontario to one of the highest minimum wages in the country," said David Piccini, minister of Labour, who touted the passage of the Working for Workers Act, 2023.

"Our government is continuing to deliver steady and predictable annual increases, helping families offset the rising cost of living while also providing certainty to businesses by announcing this increase six months in advance.

"For those who think health and safety is just the cost of doing business, we passed the highest health and safety fines in the country, along with new penalties for those who try to abuse vulnerable temporary foreign workers by withholding their passport or work permit."

Meanwhile, the Workers’ Action Centre says the increase is happening because workers "fought long and hard to finally win legislation in 2014 that ensures the minimum wage keeps up with the cost of living each year."

By implementing the increase on Oct. 1, Doug Ford is simply implementing an inflationary increase which is mandated under the Employment Standards Act, says a news release from the group.

"In a climate of unprecedented inflation, workers are facing sticker shock at the grocery store, discovering that their paychecks can't keep pace with ballooning expenses. This 6.8 per cent wage increase serves as a much-needed financial cushion for thousands of Ontario families," said Deena Ladd, executive director of the Workers Action Centre. "Without the tireless activism of precarious workers fighting for this law, we would not be getting this increase from the Ontario government. 

"The increase to $16.55 will have a substantial impact on nearly 1.4 million workers, particularly women, but it still isn’t enough," says the release.

"Every adjustment to the minimum wage has been incredibly helpful to me and my family, but ultimately what I need is a wage I can actually survive on,” said Kanthavel, a minimum wage worker currently being supported by the Workers’ Action Centre. “Every visit to the grocery store is a reminder that the current minimum wage is simply not enough. We need at least a $20 minimum wage."

Kanthavel has been a security guard with the same employer for the past 12 years, always receiving the minimum wage.