March 15, 2009
A 75-cent per hour increase in Ontario’s minimum wage will continue as planned at the end of March, despite the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) urging the province to cancel the increase, because of the poor condition of the economy.

Labour Minister Peter Fonseca says the government consulted businesses before implementing a schedule to increase the minimum wage each year. The labour minister is quoted as saying, the Liberal government felt that was the fair way to proceed after the Conservatives froze the minimum wage for nine years. “The increase of the minimum wage is one of the cornerstones of the government’s poverty reduction strategy,” said Fonseca. “It will help those vulnerable workers in Ontario make a little bit more money and help them out with their quality of life.”

The CFIB had asked the government to scrap the plan to boost the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour on March 31. “The last thing small companies need is another increase in the cost of doing business,” said CFIB’s Ontario Director Satinder Chera.

Ontario has one of the highest minimum wages in Canada, which is second only to Nunavut. Since 2004, the provincial government has increased the minimum wage by 28 per cent. “If the government is serious about wanting to improve the standard of living for those earning the lowest wages, they could increase the amount that workers can earn tax free. Letting people keep more of their money would be much more effective and wouldn’t compromise small business’s ability to grow and create jobs,” concluded Chera.