Earlier this month, the Ontario government announced an increase to the minimum wage from $11.25 to $11.40.
In a statement, Kevin Flynn, Ontario Minister of Labour, said that “our government understands that cost(s) of living increases every year. In order to help families keep up, we’ve tied the minimum wage to increases in inflation, putting more money into the pockets of Ontario workers each year.”
And man, have they ever helped! An extra 15 cents! Ontario residents should be pleased, over the moon even. Ever dreamed of owning a car, being able to take your family on trip, or even just splurging on a movie once a week? Well, now you still won’t be able to do it, but you are closer to to the dream, right?
Let’s do some simple math.
Assuming you are a full-time worker (40 hours a week) living off of minimum wage, this will increase your bi-weekly salary to $912 — before taxes of course. That means your annual income prior to taxes is about $23,712.
The average cost of an apartment in a city like Toronto is approximately $1,500, which means that over $17,000 of that money will be spent on rent, not including amenities like hydro or Internet. Groceries are an extra one to two thousand dollars a year depending on how big your family is and how hungry you plan on being.
Of course, then there are medical bills, transportation costs, and cell phone charges. But hey, you got a raise, so not to worry.
The problem with these minimum wage hikes is that it is tied to inflation, as was explained by the honourable minister of labour. Canada’s workforce is expected to be grateful with this small pay increase, but in reality, it’s not going to help. And pretending it will is extremely dangerous.
While the price of labour increases with inflation, so does the cost of goods. This means that a minimum wage rises at a similar interval as the cost of bread and will do nothing to alleviate the poverty rate.
If the government really wants to make a difference, it will work towards raising the minimum wage to a level that allows families to live in a sustainable way. Society needs workers who perform these minimum wage jobs, and they should be paid accordingly. Minimum wager earners work hard, with no benefits or security. And yet they are rewarded with a dismal pay cheque.
No one should have to choose between a roof over their head or groceries for the month. Ontario CAN do better and it’s time the government seriously and actively considers a higher minimum wage.
Minimum Wage in Canada*
- Ontario: $11.40
- Alberta: $12.20
- British Columbia: $10.85
- Manitoba: $11.00
- New Brunswick: $10.65
- Newfoundland and Labrador: $10.50
- Northwest Territories: $12.50
- Nova Scotia: $10.70
- Nunavut: $13.00
- Prince Edward Island: $11.00
- Quebec: $10.75
- Saskatchewan: $10.72
- Yukon: $11.07
*According to the Government of Canada.