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Friday, October 12, 2018

Mixed Reaction to Province's Move to Scrap Minimum Wage Hike

Grey Bruce | by Matt Hermiz  

Chamber of Commerce, Grey Bruce Labour Council weigh in on Ford government's cancellation of rise to $15

The provincial government's recent move to scrap the planned minimum wage hike is being met with mixed reviews among local lobby organizations.

In September, the Doug Ford government announced the minimum wage will remain at $14 an hour and not rise to $15 on Jan. 1, 2019, as planned under the previous Liberal government.

Owen Sound and District Chamber CEO Peter Reesor says the halt will allow small businesses more time to adjust and prepare for a higher minimum wage.

"Chambers of Commerce across Ontario, all recognize the need to increase the minimum wage," Reesor says. "The objection has been, since the announcement of the minimum wage increase, they brought it in to fast, and to much, all at once."

Grey Bruce Labour Council vice-president Dave Trumble says $14 an hour is "clearly not" a wage someone can survive on.

He says cancelling the increase ensures workers who are already in precarious situations in Ontario, will not be able to help lift themselves out of poverty.

"If minimum wage had gone up incrementally in all those years it was frozen back during the Mike Harris years, in reality, it's not a matter of increased speed," Trumble says. "It's a matter of saying we have neglected people on minimum wage, it's time for them to catch up."

Reesor says there are businesses in Owen Sound and area that have had to lay off in employees and/or decrease their number of hours in order to cope with the minimum wage increase.

"There have been some suggestions that the private sector, all they're trying to do is protect their profit," Reesor explains. "There are many businesses in the community that are getting by, that have some profitability. But by this increase it has eliminated that profitability so they're just hanging on."

"The expectation is that it needs to increase to $15 an hour, but in a more timely manner."

Trumble notes an increased minimum actually helps the business community by raising the economic activity through increased consumer purchasing power.

"You need to recognize when there's money in people's hands, they actually increase economic activity significantly," adds Trumble.

The province has not yet indicated if or when the minimum wage will rise again.

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