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Ontario minimum wage rises to $16.55 an hour; advocates say still not a living wage

Ontario’s minimum wage rises on Sunday to $16.55 an hour.

The increase is tied to inflation, and is up 6.8 per cent from the previous rate of $15.50 an hour.

The province first announced the increase in March, in order to give businesses time to plan.

Labour advocates and opposition critics have said Ontario should introduce a $20 minimum wage.

Deena Ladd, executive director of the Workers’ Action Centre in Toronto, says while an increase is welcome news, minimum wage should already be higher than it is. 

“Part of what we’re also seeing right now in terms of people struggling to survive is the fact that the minimum wage should have actually been closer to 18 dollars right now,” Ladd said.

The Ontario Living Wage Network says a living wage in the Greater Toronto Area is around $23 an hour.

The Progressive Conservatives cancelled a planned minimum wage increase from $14 to $15 per hour after they took office in 2018, then raised it to $15 in January of last year and tied later increases to inflation.

Randy Robinson, Ontario director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, says the new wage as it stands is simply not enough.

“The living wage across Ontario right now is about $20. In the Greater Toronto Area, it’s more like 23,” Robinson told CBC Toronto.

“$16.55, is nowhere near what you need to be making.”

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