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House Statement
by the Honourable Yasir Naqvi
Minister of Labour
on the Introduction of the Fair Minimum Wage Act

  • Issued: February 25, 2014
  • Content last reviewed: February 2014

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Speaker, our government is committed to building a more prosperous Ontario while creating the jobs of today and tomorrow and providing more opportunities for all.

I was proud to stand with Premier Wynne recently and announce that our government is increasing the minimum wage to $11 an hour on June 1st of this year.

This will give Ontario the highest provincial minimum wage in Canada and builds on our strong track record of rising living standards for workers.

It is important to remember that when we came to office, the minimum wage had been frozen for eight years straight.

That was not fair to workers who saw their cost of living increase while their wages stayed frozen.

That’s why our government has increased the minimum wage by 50 per cent since 2003.

Against the opposition’s wishes, our government has raised the minimum wage from $6.85 to the $10.25 it is today.

We increased it during good times and during the depths of the recession because it was the right thing to do.

Ontario went from having one of the lowest minimum wages in Canada to one of the highest because that’s what hard-working Ontario families deserved.

A look at the past 20 years shows us that decisions on minimum wage were too often ad hoc, left to the political whims of the day.

That meant that the NDP increased minimum wage less than two dollars during their five years in office and the PC government failed to raise it one penny.

That was not fair to workers who did not know what their hourly wage would be from one year to the next and unpredictable for businesses who could not plan for the future.

That is why our government is introducing the Fair Minimum Wage Act. If passed, it would establish a fair, predictable and transparent approach to setting minimum wage in the future.

This legislation would require all future adjustments to the minimum wage to be annual and tied to increases in Ontario’s Consumer Price Index (CPI).

This would ensure that Ontario’s minimum wage keeps pace with the cost of living in a way that allows our businesses to plan for the future and continue to create jobs.

Tying minimum wage to the change in Ontario’s annual CPI was one of the recommendations in the consensus report put forward by Ontario’s Minimum Wage Advisory Panel.

The panel, which included representatives from business, labour, community and anti-poverty groups, travelled across the province to get advice and feedback from Ontarians on all sides of the issue.

It travelled to 10 cities and heard over 400 submissions from businesses large and small, organized labour, community and anti-poverty groups and others on this important topic.

I would like to thank Professor Anil Verma and the panel members for their dedication on this report and all their hard work in getting us to this point.

We will be acting on all of the panel’s thorough and thoughtful recommendations.

This means that, if passed, the first CPI adjustment would take effect on October 1, 2015 and would be announced by April 1, 2015.

This would give both workers and businesses six months to plan.

And all future annual changes to the minimum wage would use the same schedule.

Any changes would be rounded to the nearest five cents, and there would be no decreases.

In addition, our proposed legislation would, if passed, put in place a five-year review of the minimum wage and how it is set.

As I mentioned Speaker, the advisory panel met with over 400 business, labour and community groups who represent thousands more members, business owners and Ontario families.

It was disappointing, however, that neither of the opposition parties made a presentation or submission to the panel nor spoke up on this topic during Question Period.

Speaker, increasing minimum wage and establishing a fair and predictable way of setting it in the future is part of the government's economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow. The comprehensive plan and its six priorities focus on Ontario's greatest strength — its people and strategic partnerships.

And one of the ways we are working to create and attract good jobs, and help families, is by setting a fair and balanced minimum wage.

Raising the minimum wage to $11 on June 1st of this year will help improve the standard of living for hard-working people across the province.

Those working on minimum wage will not see their wages fall below the cost of living again.

If passed, our legislation would take setting minimum wage out of the hands of politicians and provide predictability and certainty to businesses to stay competitive and create jobs.

Raising the minimum wage and calling for an annual increase tied to the cost of living would put more money in people's pockets.

It would also give our businesses predictability and help build a more prosperous economy, while ensuring a fair society for all.

I hope that all parties will support this important legislation.

Thank you Speaker.