Minimum wage hike step toward ‘living wage’: SDC

(Newswatch Group/File)

SD&G – The executive director of the Social Development Council of Cornwall and Area says the province’s planned hike in the minimum wage is a “step in the direction toward a living wage.”

The Ontario government announced Tuesday it will hike the minimum wage to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018 and to $15 an hour on Jan. 1, 2019.

The current minimum wage is $11.40.

“This will help the families who are working, known as the working poor. Both partners working more than one job often have to still rely on taxpayer dollars from Ontario Works to get a drug benefit card. Hopefully this boost will help them pay their own bills and help them sustain themselves,” Alex de Wit told Cornwall Newswatch.

An actual “living wage” for Cornwall and SD&G has not been calculated – at least not by the Social Development Council – De Wit explained. The calculation is done by a social economist and massive amounts of data. “These things don’t happen for free.”

“It’s kind of a difficult thing to say whether the $15 an hour will have an affect on that (living wage) because we don’t have that data for this area.”

De Wit says the other part of the equation is the small businesses. “You have to be able to afford to buy what it is you’re selling. If you can’t budget to spend the money on those minimum wage jobs. Places like Tim Hortons or McDonald’s, if you can’t afford to eat there then why are they paying minimum wage?”

De Wit is hopeful the minimum wage increase will see people buy locally produced goods.

He doesn’t believe it will affect the availability of minimum wage jobs because businesses will see increased traffic and more revenue from people with more “expendable” and disposable income.

“The missing piece is we’re going to have to put a push on encourage people to buy local…instead of going to those super stores,” he said.

There are other provisions in the minimum wage legislation, including equal pay for part-time employees doing the same job as full-timers and employees paid for three hours if their shift if cancelled within 48 hours.