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Appendix 6: Summary of Stakeholder Consultations

  • Issued: January 27, 2014
  • Content last reviewed: January 2014

6.1 Summary of Responses to Consultation Paper Questions — Public Consultation Presentations

From September 6 to December 5, 2013, the Minimum Wage Advisory Panel held regional consultation meetings in various locations throughout the province. The public also had the opportunity to submit comments and responses to the Consultation Paper on Ontario's Minimum Wage online and by email

During the consultation sessions held across the province, the Panel heard from a number of community, labour, and business groups as well as from individuals. Presenters were asked to address the questions posed by the Consultation Paper, and also made submissions more generally on the state of minimum wage rates in Ontario. The following section summarizes the submissions of some of the various presenters, and is organized by each question posed in the Consultation Paper.

It should be noted that the majority of presentations did not target or directly address the questions posed by the Consultation Paper. Rather, most presenters focused on arguments for or against raising the minimum wage, some of which indirectly commented on the questions posed to the Panel. These comments are summarized in a later section, Section 6.2.

6.1.2 In addition to the factors already considered by the government, which additional factors should be considered in setting and changing the minimum wage?

As previously discussed, the Consultation Paper set out a number of factors that are currently considered when it analyzes the minimum wage. Presenters were asked to discuss any additional factors that should be considered in setting the minimum wage.

Most presenters reiterated factors that are already captured by the list of factors considered by the government in setting the minimum wage. These discussions were largely made in the context of making arguments for or against the raising of the minimum wage. Presenters either emphasized the use of various factors, or stated factors that were less important/should not be considered. These factors are discussed further in the sections addressing arguments for and against raising the minimum wage. In general, those in favour of raising the minimum wage cited factors related to the cost of living, the characteristics of minimum wage earners, the positive impact on the economic conditions, trends and developments in other jurisdictions, results from minimum wage earning stakeholders and the minimal overall and long-term impact on businesses. Those in favour of maintaining the current minimum wage rate emphasized economic conditions in the province, the overall impact of previous minimum wage increases on business, and the differential and more severe impact on small businesses and particular industries.

In response to this question, a few factors were specifically identified in the presentations that do not appear to fall under the list of factors considered by the Government in analyzing minimum wage:

  • The GDP and economic conditions of Canada.
  • Pay gaps amongst different groups.
  • Pay settlements between sectors.
  • The power relationships between workers and employees.

One group noted that there should be a balance between employer and employee perspectives, an important point that was generally not expressed by the groups who tended to take strong stances favouring either raises or the status quo.

6.1.3 Should Ontario consider adopting any of the mechanisms currently being used by other Canadian jurisdictions to adjust their minimum wage rates?

Ontario currently uses a discretionary, ad-hoc basis to review minimum wage. The Consultation Paper referenced three procedures used by other Canadian jurisdictions to adjust minimum wage: (a) ad-hoc increases by the Government (b) an independent advisory committee or (c) a mandatory review process, and asked presenters to comment on these systems.

Ad-hoc reviews

Both pro-employer and pro-employee groups that addressed this question were overwhelmingly against the use of an ad-hoc process. The ad-hoc process was described as unpredictable and distressing, leading to preparation and planning problems that affected both employees and employers. Ad-hoc changes were also described as politically motivated or subject to political interference. These arguments were linked by the common thread of a desire for fair, transparent and accountable increases.

Independent Advisory Committee

Pro-employer and pro-employee groups both expressed that an independent advisory committee had the potential to be a fair, open and transparent mechanism. They suggested that any such committee would need to include representatives from different stakeholder groups. The committee could make non-binding suggestions to the Government, who would then decide whether or not to implement the recommendations. One suggestion was to have a tripartite body with representatives from labour groups, business and government groups, and youth and community members, which would examine indexation and the challenges facing low-income earners.

Mandatory Review Process

Only two groups indicated their desire for a mandatory review process, suggesting that it occur annually. One group recommended the full participation of employers and those working minimum wage jobs in such a mandatory review.

General Comments

Several groups did not choose specific review process but instead, espoused principles that should guide the review process generally. These principles included transparency, regularity, fairness, depoliticization, incremental increases, objectivity, and predictability.

6.1.4 Are there any other types of review processes Ontario should consider as a mechanism to use in establishing minimum wage rates in future?

Several presenters raised the concept of an independent body or arms-length agency, with presenters both against and in favour of such a body. Those against were concerned with political interference, governance problems and mandate problems. Those in favour suggested a permanent independent advisory committee with employee and employer representatives. Suggestions including empowering this agency with research capacity and the ability to conduct ongoing consultations with low-wage workers; a focus on poverty and low-income earners; and the inclusion of an umbrella group to represent marginalized, minimum wage workers. An arms-length agency was described as depoliticized and able to promote a better social understanding of the need for a minimum wage and the relevant factors to consider.

6.1.5 Should Ontario's minimum wage be tied to an economic indicator such as the rate of inflation, average weekly earnings, or any other indicator?

Both those in favour of and against raising minimum wage increases argued for the use of an economic indicator as a means to provide regular, incremental fair and reasonable increases. The use of economic indicators was strongly preferred over the current ad-hoc mechanism of increases to the minimum wage. Those against raising the minimum wage suggested future increases tied to economic indicators. Those in favour of raising the minimum wage generally argued for an immediate increase to the minimum wage followed by increases tied to an economic indicator, indicating that an increase to economic indicators without an immediate increase is insufficient.

The four indicators that were most frequently cited were the Cost-of-Living/Cost-of-Living-Adjustment; Inflation; Consumer Price Index, and the Low-Income Measure. Productivity was mentioned as a possible sole indicator, or an indicator to be used in tandem with other indicators such as inflation or CPI, as were employment levels and overall economic prosperity.

COL/COLA

Several groups, primarily employee or community groups, recommended the use of COL/COLA as the economic indicator to which minimum wage should be tied. Reference was made to other provinces that take into account the price of consumer goods.

The Market Basket Measure was also proposed as an alternative measure reflecting actual cost of living.

CPI

The CPI was the most frequently cited indicator. Reference was made to other provinces that already tie their minimum wage rates to the CPI. It was described as predictable and easily understood by both employers and employees. Consideration as to which CPI measure to use (i.e. all items vs. other CPI indicators) was referenced. Some employer groups stated that the minimum wage rate should not outpace the rate of CPI.

Inflation

Several groups suggested the use of inflation as an indicator on its own or in combination with other measures. Reference was made to other provinces that take inflation into account in setting their minimum wage rates. One employer group indicated that the minimum wage rate should not outpace the rate of inflation.

LIM

Several groups recommended setting the minimum wage rate above the LIM, usually quoting a bar of 10% above this measure. This was also referenced in argument calling for an immediate raise of the minimum wage to 10% above the LIM, as this would lead to a larger minimum wage rate increase to approximately $14/hour.

Other Indicators

Only a few groups proposed the LICO or Average Weekly Earnings as an economic indicator that should be used in setting minimum wage rates. One group indicated that the Average Weekly Earnings indicator should not be considered, nor should family size. Another group indicated that the AWE and the CPI were quite similar, preferring the use of the CPI.

Combinations

Several different combinations of the above enumerated economic factors were recommended, such as CPI/COL; inflation/CPI; productivity/inflation/CPI. One group suggested raising the minimum wage by the greater of one of two indicators, while other groups suggested either of two indicators as acceptable. In doing so, one presenter indicated that the CPI on its own was inadequate as a measure, and that a combined measure was appropriate.

General comments

Presenters also commented more generally on the tying of the minimum wage to one or more economic indicators. From the perspective of employers, this process was viewed as a providing a fair, predictable indicator that could allow employers to adjust wages reasonably and protect competitiveness. Indicators were described as a means to balance consumer buying power with business competitiveness. From the perspective of employees, the use of economic indicators were seen as necessary to reflect rising consumer prices and costs of living, thus preventing the erosion of wages and reduction of purchasing power over time.

6.1.6 Are there any other mechanisms Ontario could consider implementing to determine future adjustments to the minimum wage?

The UK Low Wage Committee approach and the approach to calculating the Ontario Child Benefit were suggested as approaches that could be mirrored or reviewed.

6.1.7 How often should Ontario review the minimum wage?

Employee and community groups overwhelmingly recommended annual reviews of the minimum wage rate. One group went so far as to recommend legislation requiring annual increases to the minimum wage based on an independent review, citing a similar process in other Canadian jurisdictions. Employer groups tended to recommend review periods of two years, citing the administrative costs associated with yearly changes. Often, it was suggested that a two-year review should be tied to a cumulative change of the CPI over the previous two years. Two groups suggested a broader review every 5 years or during exceptional circumstances, such as a traumatic CPI change.

6.1.8 Should there be a mandatory periodic review of Ontario's minimum wage? If so, how often should such a review occur, and what format would the review take?

Very few groups addressed the question of a mandatory periodic review. Two groups suggested an annual review by way of advisory panel, while another suggested public consultations every five years.

6.1.9 Notice provided before implementing a change

Presenters were asked to comment on the amount of notice that should be provided to employers and employees prior to the implementation of any change in the minimum wage. Of those who responded, a range of notice periods from 3-4 months to a minimum of 6 months to a minimum of a year's notice were suggested.

In general, employer presenters suggested communication and publicizing well in advance to allow for necessary business planning, including budget planning. One group suggested different timing based on the associated increase – a short amount of time for a modest CPI trend, and a longer period for a more substantive change to the CPI, such as a change of 5% or more.

6.2 Other Comments Beyond the Scope of the MWAP

The majority of "other" comments fell into one of five categories:

  1. Arguments for a minimum wage increase.
  2. Arguments against a minimum wage increase.
  3. Differentials/Exclusions from the minimum wage.
  4. Concerns about Employment Standards Act enforcement.
  5. Concerns about precarious employment/employment agencies

While these are outside the scope of the Panel's terms of reference, these comments and arguments will be summarized below as they do inform the consideration and relative weighting of various factors when determining how to set minimum wage.

6.2.1 Arguments for a minimum wage increase.

Presenters generally fell into two camps: Those who believed that the minimum wage should be increased, and those who felt it should remain the same or that increases should be low. Those in favour of a minimum wage increase raised a number of arguments in support of their position, grouped by theme below.

Characteristics of Wage Earners and Wage Providers

In making their arguments, those in favour of an increase cited a number of statistics regarding the characteristics of minimum wage earners, such as the rising number of minimum wage workers as a proportion of workers in Ontario, the percentage of women, minorities, and newcomers to Canada the rising age of the minimum wage workers and the position of minimum wage earners in society and in reference to the poverty line. They also cited statistics about the companies that employ minimum wage earners, specifically the statistic that large businesses of over 500+ employers account for half of all minimum wage workers in Ontario.

Cost of Living/Living Wage

Some presenters described the original intent of the minimum wage as a way to protect those without bargaining power, with the minimum wage providing a wage floor in order to address power imbalances for those at the bottom of earners. These arguments were tied to arguments that the current minimum wage is not liveable and/or does not take into account the cost of living, which was one of the primary arguments of those in favour of increases. Those in favour of increases almost unanimously cited the inability of those earning the minimum wage to live on their earnings, with several references to the minimum wage being 19%-25% below the poverty line or the LIM. The point was made repeatedly that those working full time, full year round should not be living at or below the poverty line. Several groups proposed a minimum wage that is a living wage as a minimum requirement. It was also noted by several groups that the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation since the previous increase, resulting in a loss of 6.5% of purchasing power by minimum wage earners. Furthermore, as the minimum wage is not a living wage, workers are required to work an above average number of hours, leaving little or no time for retraining or finding new work. Some presenters suggested that it was more lucrative to receive social assistance than to work full-time at a minimum wage income.

Anti-Poverty

Many of these presenters indicated that the minimum wage is or should be part of an anti-poverty strategy. They noted that working full-time should be a pathway out of poverty, and that an appropriately set minimum wage should and could play a vital role in reducing poverty. Some noted that it was a tool to address poverty, but should be part of a multi-faceted strategy. Relatedly, the negative impacts of poverty on youth behaviour, family development, school success and poor health outcomes were referenced. Concerns were also expressed regarding a cycle of poverty, particularly child poverty, that was perpetuated by an inability of minimum wage workers to move to higher paying or more stable jobs.

Equity

The racialization and genderization of the poor was also cited as a relevant consideration. The minimum wage was described as differentially impacting women, children, immigrants, disabled workers and racial minorities, amongst others, and thus, using the minimum wage was cited as a means of achieving racial and gender equity. An increased minimum wage was referred to as both an equality and equity policy. References were also made to the growing income disparity, and the need for strategies, such as an increase to the minimum wage, to address this growing inequality.

Economic and Labour Market Impacts

Several arguments were raised to counter common claims by business or employer groups against minimum wage increases. Several groups suggested that there was little harm caused by previous increases. They suggested that the evidence does not support decreased employment or job loss, instead citing the addition of jobs to the sales and service sector during the last period of increases, and the benefits of raising the minimum wage. Reference was made to studies showing minimal costs to businesses or a lack of consensus on the impact of the raise of minimum wage. Similar arguments were made for the minimal negative employment impact of an increase to minimum wage, with higher wages associated with an improved bottom line, higher sales, better customer service, lower recruitment costs, lower training costs, and higher profits. One group commented that it was a myth that the minimum wage could not be increased because of the fragility of the economy, given the ability of other provinces to increase their rates in recent years.

It was proposed by several groups that a higher minimum wage would stimulate economic growth, and lead to more money circulating in the economy. It was argued that raising the minimum wage would increase the purchasing power of the over half a million Ontarians subsisting on the minimum wage. Several groups argued that these low income workers were more likely to spend most of their increased income locally, thus putting money back into the economy. Job creation was another benefit suggested by proponents of an increase.

Increased productivity was also cited as a boost of minimum wage increase. Higher wages were linked to increased well being, better health outcomes and decreased stress, which in turn lead to lower levels of absenteeism and better focus on the job.

It was also argued that minimum wages were mostly paid by large companies, those that can afford to pay much more than the current minimum wage. It was suggested that in order to alleviate any costs to small businesses, a number of tax reductions for small businesses could be coupled with a minimum wage increase to insulate small businesses from the costs of higher wages.

Sound Social Policy/Link to Other Social Policies

It was noted that an increase in the minimum wage leads to a number of positive social benefits, such as feeling valued, increasing family connections, creating better social relationships amongst citizens, and providing a better future for the most vulnerable in our society, such as children. Minimum wage was also described as having a significant impact on the levels of social assistance rates, serving as a reference point and basic standard. Minimum wage rates were referred to as a human rights issue that should be brought in line with our local and international human rights obligations.

Other jurisdictions

The success of higher minimum wages in other jurisdictions such as Australia, B.C. (Living wage communities), Santa Fe, New Mexico, New Zealand, and Belgium were referenced in favour of raising the minimum wage.

Benchmark for Rate Change:

It was suggested that there are two ways to set a statutory minimum wage rate:

  1. Place an individual above a widely accepted measure of poverty based on working full-time and full year;
  2. Link the lowest paid worker to the average worker, in order to reaffirm the value of all work to Ontario's economy.

The majority of proponents supported the first option, calling for an immediate increase to a rate set 10% above the poverty line or LIM. Various calculations peg this rate at approximately $14-$15 dollars. This wage rate was calculated based on working full-time (35 hours per week) and full-year (50 weeks per year). Several groups did not include calculations but indicated that that the rate should be based on a 35-hour work week, in alignment with the above calculation.

Some groups recommended a more gradual adjustment of the minimum wage, with increases over periods of 3 or 5 years. It was noted by two groups that the minimum wage should be rounded to the nearest 5 cents. One group proposed a rise of 75 cents every six months, from January 1, 2014 to July 1, 2016, followed by annual cost of living increases.

In accordance with the second option, one group suggested setting the wage rate at 60% of the average industrial wage, which is a current policy goal in a number of European nations. Given a 2012 average industrial wage of $24.22, this would result in a minimum wage of $14.50.

The majority of groups indicated that once the minimum wage was increased to the appropriate level, future adjustments would be tied to economic indicators.

6.2.2 Arguments against a minimum wage increase.

Those against of a minimum wage increase raised a number of arguments in support of their position, grouped by theme below.

Costs/Job Loss

Several groups cited the costs of an increase for businesses and industries. They noted that the increased costs would be passed on to the consumer, resulting in increased prices, but that these costs could only be passed down to consumers to a certain extent.

In addition to general, unspecified costs, the costs of labour were cited as being particularly expensive and the most significant components of business costs. Groups expressed concern that increased labour costs via a minimum wage increase and any resulting snowball effect on the wages of other workers would lead to the loss of hours and jobs, lead to more part-time work, and impact particular industries such as retail, hospitality and leisure. Representatives from the Hospitality and Retail industries stated that they had been hit hard by past increases, and that rising labour, food and energy costs were difficult to manage given the small profit margins in these industries. One group provided statistics of 10% job loss in their industry over a three-year period, with a reduction in the hiring of students and inexperienced workers.

Other groups indicated that they had been affected/had not recovered from previous increases, but did not provide more details of the impact of the increase. Other groups indicated that businesses would close as a result of additional increases.

Small Business Impact

The differential impact on small businesses and small towns was mentioned several times, with increased costs having a large impact on small business given their smaller scale and profit margins. Some groups expressed concern that costs would be passed along to consumers, and community contributions would be reduced. Some presenters noted the difficulties small businesses have in passing off costs to consumers when competing against large businesses. It was suggested that the Government should find equivalent cost reductions through taxation for small businesses should it raise the minimum wage.

Productivity

It was argued that purported increases in productivity would not be useful to many industries that rely heavily on minimum wage rates.

Competition

The lower costs of labour in other/neighbouring jurisdictions were cited as a consideration, especially for businesses in close proximity to the United States, those that compete with the United States, and in certain industries, such as tourism and retail. This was tied to arguments that a higher minimum wage would reduce the competitiveness of Ontario companies and certain industries, such as farming, retail and hospitality.

Impact on Youth Employment

It was argued that a minimum wage increase would have a particular impact on teen and youth employment. It was argued by several groups that a minimum wage increase of 10% would lead to a 3-6% job loss for youth and students. This was of particular concern given the already high rate of unemployment among this group. It was described as running counter to the Premier's youth jobs strategy.

General Economic Impact

Another line of argument concerned the impact on the economy and other employment. General concerns about the impact on the employers and the economy were expressed, including the potential negative impact on employment rates. It was argued that the wage rate should remain frozen until the economy recovers in all communities.

Anti-Poverty Strategy

Several groups expressed concern with the use of the minimum wage as a tool to fight poverty, referring to it as a "blunt tool" for that purpose. While they acknowledged that poverty reduction is important, they indicated that minimum wage was not the way to do so. Several presenters indicated that the minimum wage was not intended to be a living wage or a poverty reduction program. It was suggested that the link between minimum wage and poverty was not strong and direct or was vague. It was argued that poverty needed to be addressed at a societal level, not addressed solely by employers, and that other social tools, such as affordable housing, tax reductions, daycare, food costs, and retraining programs, should be improved prior to relying on the minimum wage as an anti-poverty tool.

6.2.3 Concerns about Employment Standards Act enforcement.

Several concerns were raised regarding the enforceability of the Employment Standards Act, which was criticized for providing little protection to minimum wage workers. The enforcing of Employment Standards was implied as a means of alleviating some of the stress and burden borne by minimum wage workers.

6.2.4 Concerns about precarious employment/employment agencies

Concerns were raised about temporary agencies and the impact on the erosion of wages. Agencies were described as undermining workers and leading to lower levels of take home pay for low wage earners. Concerns were also raised regarding the increasing incidence of precarious work and the impact on Ontarians.

6.2.5 Differentials.

Arguments Against Differentials/Exclusions

Several presenters called for a removal of all differentials and exclusions to the minimum wage rate, or for the removal of the differentials/exclusions particular to the group they represented (e.g., students, migrant workers, live-in caregivers). Presenters argued that minimum wage should depend on one's work, not on their family status or age. Exemptions were seen to lead to a lack of protection and increased hardship.

Servers/Tipping Industries

It was argued that differentials should be maintained for industries where additional incomes were customarily earned through tips, such as hair, beauty, and servers.

Students

It was argued that differential rates for students and youth were discriminatory, as they were doing the same work as adults. The increased costs of post-secondary education were also raised as a concern. One presenter argued that if the wage rate for students/youth was the same as the rate for adults, businesses would be more hesitant to hire youth, leading to increased unemployment rates. Others argued that different rates for apprentices, juniors and trainees were appropriate, and that pay should increase with experience.

Migrant Workers

One group indicated their reliance on the temporary foreign workers program for low skilled workers, and suggested that the minimum wage should not be increased for this group.

Farming

An argument was made that the need to compete in a global as opposed to a local market led to the need for a different wage rate for the farming and agricultural industry. Arguments were also made differentiating farm workers, who are mostly in rural areas, from urban workers.

Geographic Differentiation

Some presenters asked the Panel to consider regional differences, taking into account economic realities, housing costs, and the availability of public transit for urban and rural centers. Others suggested that the costs in smaller communities were beginning to be more similar to urban centers, while other indicated that disparities in communities should be addressed by taxes and infrastructure.

6.3 Summary of Individual Submissions

An online submission form allowed individuals to submit responses to the discussion questions posed by the minimum wage Consultation Paper. Individuals could also submit general comments regarding Ontario's minimum wage. In addition to the online submission through the webpage, the public could also use fax, email, mail or a toll-free phone line to send their input. In total, the Panel received 340 submissions that came via various channels. Appendix 5a shows the distribution of these submissions by channel. The following section summarizes all categories of submissions with respect to the specific questions posed to the panel. As the submissions by individuals were shorter and less detailed, and as answers to questions often answered different questions than the ones posed, submissions and comments have been combined into thematic categories as outlined below.

6.3.1 Factors to be considered in setting and changing the minimum wage.

As previously discussed, the Consultation Paper set out a number of factors that are currently considered by the Government when it considers revisions to the minimum wage. Individuals were asked if additional factors should be considered.

The majority of individuals reiterated factors that are already considered by the Government in determining the minimum wage. A substantial amount of discussion was devoted to the impact of the minimum wage on poverty, on business, and the concept of a living wage. A few factors were identified in the individual submissions and comments that do not appear to fall under the list of factors considered by the government in analyzing minimum wage. These are:

  • Employment status of workers.
  • The failure for employment and training programs to lead to full-time positions.
  • Pay equity.
  • Minimum wage as an anti-poverty measure.
  • The impact of poverty on social incomes, crime and health.
  • The costs of post-secondary education and the increasing indebtedness of students.

6.3.2 Economic Indicators and Other Mechanism

Individuals were asked whether the minimum wage should be tied to an economic indicator such as the rate of inflation, average weekly earnings, or any other indicator.

LICO

Some individuals suggested that the LICO should be used as a mechanism by which to adjust the minimum wage rate.

Inflation

Several individuals suggested that the minimum wage should be tied to the inflation rate. One suggestion was that the minimum wage should be tied to core inflation adjustment (for example, excluding energy costs).

LIM

Several individuals suggested that the minimum wage should be set at 10% above the Low Income Measure. Others suggested more generally that it should be tied to poverty levels/lines in Ontario.

CPI

Several individuals indicated that the CPI should be used as an economic indicator with which to set minimum wage.

COL

Several individuals indicated that the Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) should be used as a mechanism to adjust minimum wage rates. Some individuals suggested that minimum wage increases should be set by zone in Ontario, introducing regional variation such that the minimum wage would be higher in areas with a higher cost of living.

Unemployment rate

The unemployment rate, including the "true" unemployment rate (discounting governmental programs) was suggested. Others indicated that unemployment and welfare rates should be used to adjust the minimum wage

Other Economic Indicators

Other suggestions included the annual budget, domestic and international economic indicators, employment standards, work hours, regional factors, and the success of small businesses.

Combinations

Other combinations were suggested, such as the Alberta model, which uses a formula that combines the AWE and the CPI. In 2013, the average of the increases in the AWE and CPI were used to set a minimum wage increase. Reference was also made to the province of Saskatchewan, which the Government intends to adjust minimum wage based on the average change in CPI and the average hourly wages for the previous year, although this adjustment mechanism is not legislated. Another suggested combination was LICO & CPI. It was also suggested that Ontario could learn from other provinces, but should take care to formulate a policy that works for Ontario.

General comments

Commenters were in favour of and against increases in the current minimum wage, but regardless of where they fell on that issue, they were generally in favour with subsequent increases being tied to a fair and transparent measure that would account for gradual increases with time.

Commenters seemed generally concerned with ensuring that the minimum wage income did not erode over time, and thus rose with rises in inflation/CPI/COL. Where the disagreement lay was in which measure should be used as the mechanism.

Some individuals expressed concern that tying to these indicators should not be done, or that it would result in poor outcomes if situations changed. Others expressed concern that decreases in these indicators would not be reflected in minimum wage rates.

6.3.3 Review Mechanisms

Responders were asked to comment on mechanisms for the review process, considering mechanisms currently employed by other jurisdictions (ad-hoc, independent advisory committee, mandatory review process. They commented generally on the format of the review process, and put forth a number of suggestions.

Commenters wanted a range of individuals to be a part of the review, and that public concerns should be addressed. For example, they felt there should be opportunities for employees, low-income earners, payroll groups and those who have experienced poverty to contribute. One means to do so was through town-hall meeting, surveys, and one-on-one discussions. An independent review panel comprised of academics, and various stakeholders (business owners, community groups, anti-poverty groups) was recommended by some commenters. Commenters suggested that the review should be broad and focus on the social objectives of the minimum wage.

The suggestions regarding a mandatory periodic review and the format of such a review were varied. An independent, non-partisan process or an independent panel or committee was suggested, as were the use of surveys of or consultations with stakeholders and focus groups. Some individuals felt that the review should be set like an election or raised during election times, and others felt that it should occur when necessary (and not on any specific date/deadline). Transparency was emphasized, as was accountability and the use of sound, objective data. A range of dates, from every month to every five years was suggested, with longer time periods of every 2-5 years most frequent.

6.3.4 Frequency of Revision of Minimum Wage and Notice of Revision

A range of recommendations was provided, from twice a year, to every year, to every two or three years, to longer time periods. Recommendations of a year or every two years were the most frequent response. Suggested notice periods ranged from 1 week to as much as possible. Answers generally centered around 2-6 months.

6.4 Additional comments.

Responders were also asked whether they had any other comments regarding Ontario's minimum wage. Of note is that of the individual submissions received, many comments centered on the reasons for or against the raising of the current minimum wage rate by a significant amount, which is not an issue being considered by the Panel.

6.4.1 Setting the Current Minimum Wage Rate

Individuals fell into two camps: Those who believed that the minimum wage should be increased, and those who felt it should remain the same or that increases should be low.

Against Increasing the Minimum Wage

Those arguing in favour of keeping the minimum wage at its current rate cited concerns related to business owners, particularly small business owners, and Ontario's competitiveness on the global market. They expressed concerns about raising the wage rate beyond a level where Ontario would not be able to compete internationally. Others express concerns that small businesses would not be able to afford the wage increase. Some indicated that raising the minimum wage would lead to reductions in labour supply and the reduction of work hour, job loss, or business closures. Impacts on certain industries, such as hospitality were raised, as were the costs to consumers, particularly other low-income earners such as seniors. It was suggested that strong supporting data was needed to raise or lower the wage, and that other mechanisms could address poverty, such as tax breaks to low-income earners. Some indicated that a minimum wage was not a living wage, but rather a "foot in the door" wage. One commenter noted that the structural determinants of unemployment were more important than the minimum wage.

In favour of raising the minimum wage

Those who argued in favour of raising the minimum wage primarily discussed the cost of living and the fact that the current minimum wage rate is not a liveable wage. Several references were made to the fact that working full-time, full year should not result in living below the poverty line.

They referred to the profit margins of large companies, a need to tackle cost of living issues as part of an approach to policy, and the impact of poverty on health and social outcomes as signs that the minimum wage rate needed to be increased. It was often stated that social assistance was more lucrative than full-time minimum wage work, and that an increase in the minimum wage would lead to less dependence on social assistance. It was noted that the minimum wage has societal impacts that go beyond the economy and the success of companies.

Commenters recommended raising the minimum wage rate to between $12 and $15 dollars per hour, with more recommendations for raises between $14 and $15 dollars per hour.

6.4.2 Other Comments

Employment Standards

Several individuals pointed to problems of Employment Standards Act enforcements as a compounding factor with minimum wage workers.

Geographic Difference

Some individuals suggested that minimum wage increases should be set by zone in Ontario, such that the minimum wage would be higher in areas with a higher cost of living.

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