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Mixed reaction to minimum wage increase

Ontario General Minimum Wage Increases Since 2003. Source: Ontario Ministry of Labour.

Ontario General Minimum Wage Increases Since 2003. Source: Ontario Ministry of Labour.

Ontario is increasing the minimum wage to $11 per hour from $10.25  on June 1, 2014.

But how retailers will react remains to be seen as last week Sears announced another cut of 624 jobs, after cutting thousands of positions last year; and Best Buy Canada said it would be cutting 950 jobs there and at its Future Shop locations.

Anti-poverty activists have called for an increase to $14 per hour but the government said that would hurt businesses and reduce jobs.

The last minimum wage increase was in 2010.  Ontario has a lower minimum wage rate for students who are under 18 and work part time. It is $9.60 an hour and will rise to $10.30 on June 1. There is also a lower rate for liquor servers who earn tips.

The government will also introduce legislation that would tie future minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index to help earners keep up with the cost of living. Under the proposed legislation, increases would be announced by April 1 and come into effect on Oct. 1.

The proposed legislation would act on the recommendations of Ontario’s Minimum Wage Advisory Panel, which included business, labour, youth and anti-poverty representatives.

The panel recommends the province perform a full review of its minimum wage rates and revision process every five years.    The panel held 10 public consultations across the province and received more than 400 submissions from organizations, businesses, and individual Ontarians.

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