New Minimum Wage In Ontario

New Minimum Wage In Ontario

New Minimum Wage In Ontario

The new year brought in several changes in the province of Ontario, one of the most talked about is the coming changes to minimum wage that were highlighted in [1] Bill 148. The wage went from $11.60 to $14.00, with another $1.00 increase effective January 1st, 2019.

Ultimately, the minimum wage is the lowest wage that an employer can pay an employee.
Taken from the [2] Ontario Government’s website, this chart shows the recent changes, as well as the projected raises for minimum wage for several.

Politicians, celebrities, executives and the average workers all have opinions on the changes to the wage. Of course, these opinions come from either side of the fence, and they each make strong arguments.

The Arguments On The New Minimum Wage

The employers’ perspective

With the new minimum wage, employers are seeing a direct boost in morale and positive attitudes among their employees. And some have welcomed these changes for their employees, as seeing a happy workforce also makes for a productive workplace.

However, not every employer sees it the ‘bright side’ of the change. There has been a lot of talk over how brands are reacting and telling their franchise owners how to handle the new minimum wage.

Some brands, such as [3] Tim Horton’s, have been covered in the media as taking an alternate route and creating chaos among their workforces. They’ve allegedly cut paid breaks, benefit programs and additional perks. Although in this example, the Canadian icon brand claims, [4] through its website, that it was the actions of individual franchise owners and not the brand itself.

Some small-time employers, like local shop owners, have taken to their respective social media pages to call out the changes and claim that they are going to have to lay staff off or close their doors. So the arguments from large brands, to small mom and pop shops are similar in that they will have to cut perks to help meet the new legislation.

The average member of the workforce

Retail workers, customer service representatives and the many individuals who will soon be entering the workforce are obviously very pleased to know that they will soon be making something closer to a livable wage (as it has been described).

With the prices of consumer products rising, and the housing market still unstable in the province, the rise in the minimum wage may help combat some of the stresses of daily life. Many statements have come out in defence of the raise to claim how it will help, and not hinder the economy.

The idea of this is that minimum wage employees now have the opportunity to enjoy themselves a little more outside of working to make ends meet. Essentially, they are able to spend more of the money they are making on luxuries instead of just necessities. With this spending, some argue that it will help open up more jobs in other industries to offset those lost by layoffs that some brands, or industries, may make.

On the flip side of this, is, of course, those who are suffering those layoffs, or benefit cuts that some brands are using. The argument is that they can no longer afford to increase their employee base because of giving a workforce-wide raise. And to help afford these rising costs, they are cutting some benefits to alleviate funds.

Moving forward

Realistically, the minimum wage increase will see positive and negative outcomes. Some places may close their doors; some brands may try to increase profit by having their employees pay for it. But, we will also see a rise in morale in the workforce, and the possibility of expanding on some industries to create jobs and stimulate economic growth. Bill 148 has overall been a step in the right direction for Ontario’s workplaces, by aiming to make them safer and employment more secure.

A lot of what we are seeing now are short-term objectives by brands and reactionary statements by politicians and those in the public eye. Despite this being a heavily social issue, it has rooted itself as an almost strictly political issue, especially as we are heading into the next provincial election in a few months. It will take some time for things to settle in and allow critics and advisors to gauge whether or not the change will bring positive or negative outcomes.

The article was prepared by the employment lawyers at Hummingbird Lawyers LLP.

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References and Footnotes

  1. The Main Points Of Bill 148
  2. The Government Of Ontario, Minimum Wage Rates
  3. The Star Business Journal, Tim Hortons protests to expand beyond Ontario, 50 demonstrations planned across Canada
  4. Global News, Tim Horton's protests to expand beyond Ontario, 50 demonstrations planned across Canada
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