TORONTO — Ontario's minimum wage is set to rise to $16.55 an hour on Oct. 1.
It marks a 6.8 per cent boost from the current rate of $15.50 an hour, an increase tied to inflation.
The increase means someone making minimum wage and working 40 hours per week would see their pay increase by nearly $2,200 per year, the government said.
It will go a long way toward helping people with the cost of living, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said in an interview.
"I'm proud of my record around minimum wage, to increase it to $16.55 an hour, the highest of any province in the country," he said.
"But I also want to be clear that minimum wage jobs should be a starting point and not an end point. That's why we're investing hundreds of millions of dollars to retrain and upskill workers for bigger paycheques."
McNaughton said the government is indicating the Oct. 1 increase now in order to give businesses time to plan.
Labour advocates and opposition critics have said Ontario should introduce a $20 minimum wage.
"Given the current cost of living crisis and record-high annual inflation, these legislated adjustments are a lifeline for workers struggling to make ends meet," Deena Ladd, executive director of the Workers' Action Centre wrote in a statement.
"(But) Ontario’s minimum wage is much lower than it should be. The minimum wage on Oct. 1 would be $17.95 had (Premier Doug) Ford not cancelled the $15 minimum wage back in January 2019."
The Progressive Conservatives cancelled a planned minimum wage increase from $14 to $15 per hour after they took office in 2018. The government then raised the minimum wage to $15 in January of last year.
The Ontario Living Wage Network says a living wage in many parts of the province would be $19, but in the Greater Toronto Area it is over $23.
Yukon's minimum wage, at $16.77, is higher than what Ontario's will rise to, and the federal government's minimum wage will be $16.65 as of Saturday.
Ontario is also working on its portable benefits plan that would provide health and dental benefits attached to a worker, not a workplace, McNaughton noted.
That program is intended to cover workers in the gig economy, retail and hospitality jobs who don't have benefits, and accommodate people who may change careers throughout their lives. A task force set to deliver a blueprint for it in the summer.
Also on Oct. 1, the minimum wage for Ontario students will increase from $14.60 to $15.60 an hour for those under age 18 who work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session or work during a school break or summer holidays.
People who do paid work out of their own homes for employers will have to be paid at least $18.20 an hour, up from $17.05.
The minimum wage for hunting, fishing and wilderness guides is set to rise from $77.60 to $82.85 when working less than five consecutive hours in a day, and from $155.25 to $165.75 when working five or more hours in a day.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2023.
Allison Jones, The Canadian Press