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 government says the increase means someone making minimum wage and working 40 hours per week would see their pay increase by nearly $2,200 per year.
Labour advocates and opposition critics have said Ontario should introduce a $20 minimum wage.
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.
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton says the increase on Oct. 1 will go a long way toward helping people with the cost of living.
“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.”
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.
Yukon’s minimum wage is higher, at $16.77, and the federal government’s minimum wage will be $16.65 as of Saturday.
McNaughton said the government is indicating the Oct. 1 increase now in order to give businesses time to plan.
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.
Also on Oct. 1, the minimum wage for 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.