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Ontario increasing minimum wage to $15 per hour

The new year will also bring a new, higher minimum wage in Ontario.

Premier Doug Ford announced on Tuesday that the provincial minimum wage will increase to $15 per hour as of January 1, 2022.

Ford delivered the news alongside Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton and Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy in Milton.

"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,” Ford said in a statement. “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.”

Following a 10 cent an hour increase on October 1, the current minimum wage in Ontario is $14.35.

Under the newly proposed changes, workers who serve alcohol would also no longer be subject to a lower special minimum wage of $12.55 per hour and would instead receive the general minimum. Students under 18 would get a pay bump but still continue to earn less than the general minimum with their hourly wage going from $13.50 to $14.10.

According to provincial officials, 760,000 workers across Ontario made $15 an hour or less between January and August of this year. The majority of those minimum wage earners were women working in the accommodation and food services, and retail trade.

The planned increase means a full-time worker making general minimum wage would see their annual earnings go up by $1,350 next year.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has fired back, however, that the Ford government's proposed pay hike is still not high enough to counter the current cost of living.

"By cancelling the planned $15 minimum wage three years ago, Doug Ford has taken more than $5,300 out of the pockets of Ontario workers to date," said Horwath. "The cost of everything has skyrocketed since then — like housing, auto insurance, food and gas — and $15 an hour isn’t nearly enough anymore."

Horwath went on to call for a minimum of $17 an hour for all workers in the province.

After being elected in 2018, Ford scrapped a plan by the previous Liberal government that would have increased minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour the following year. His government kept the hourly minimum wage frozen at $14 until October 2020 when it went up by 25 cents per hour.

It was under former Premier Kathleen Wynne that the province saw its highest minimum wage increase. Between late 2017 and early 2018, minimum wage in Ontario jumped by $2.40 an hour.

Current Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca has taken to social media to slam the Ford government on its timing for the increase.

"Seven months before an election, now that he’s desperate for votes, Doug Ford's finally ending his fight against minimum wage workers," Del Duca posted on Twitter.

Ontarians go to the polls in June.

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