Local reaction to minimum wage increase

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By Nick Seebruch
Local reaction to minimum wage increase

CORNWALL, Ontario – On Nov. 2, the Ontario government announced that as of Jan. 1, 2022, the minimum wage would be increased from $14.35 and hour to $15 an hour.

“Ontario’s workers have been the unsung heroes of this pandemic, as they’ve stocked shelves, kept our supply chain moving and helped so many of us enjoy a meal among family and friends at a local restaurant,” said Premier Doug Ford. “When we asked labour leaders what their priorities were, increasing the minimum wage was at the top of the list. As the cost of living continues to go up, our government is proud to be working for workers, putting more money into their pockets by increasing the minimum wage.”

Greg Pietersma, Executive Director of the Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce said that it had no official position on whether this increase was good or bad for local business, but did state that he hoped to see more predictability when the government chooses to make moves like these.

“Our issue is that rather than setting and making the minimum wage rise predictably, it seems to be used more as a political tool rather than a societal tool,” said Pietersma.

Pietersma acknowledged that the minimum wage should reflect the rate of inflation. According to Statistics Canada, the rate of inflation for 2021 so far is 3.19 per cent.

“I think it would be better to have an annual increase that reflects inflation,” added Pietersma.

Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry Progressive Conservative MPP Jim McDonell was asked by Seaway News why his government chose to raise the minimum wage now, when i 2018 it had cancelled a planned minimum wage increase to $15 an hour that was passed by the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne.

McDonell explained that at the time, the Conservative government was concerned about the effect a minimum wage increase would have on people who work in minimum wage jobs.

“Studies show when you increase the minimum wage you hurt the workers who are the least skilled because employers will pull back,” he said.

McDonell said that 2021 was a better time to raise the minimum wage because of rising inflation combined with a demand for labour. He also said that the government had consulted with key stakeholders prior to making the decision.

The government’s announcement of the minimum wage increase comes as all provincial parties prepare for an election which could come as late as June 2, 2022.

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