The Ontario government has proposed to increase the general minimum wage to $14.00 per hour on January 1, 2018, and to $15.00 per hour on January 1, 2019. Additionally, the special minimum wage rate for students under 18, liquor servers, hunting/fishing guides and homeworkers will remain in effect, with increases by the same percentage as the general minimum wage. These changes to the minimum wage will be followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation. This proposal represents the largest increase to the minimum wage in the province’s history.
If the legislation is passed in its current form, it will represent an almost one-third increase in pay to employees at the minimum wage level over a period of slightly more than 18 months. There will be no possible way for an employer to escape the increase or extend the timeframe for providing it. Employers may want to be proactive in developing a strategy for dealing with other employees who may be adversely affected by the minimum wage increase. For instance, those employees who, before the minimum wage increase, were making $15.00 per hour may feel undervalued if their rate is not also complemented by an increase.
Bill 148 passed First Reading on June 1, 2017 and, in an expedited process, was referred to the Special Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs the same day.
The Special Committee has since posted a Notice of Public Hearings on Bill 148 to be held:
- The week of July 10, 2017 in Thunder Bay, North Bay, Ottawa, Kingston, and Windsor-Essex. Those planning to make an oral presentation in any of these locations must provide their name and contact information to Committee Clerk by 10:00am on July 4, 2017.
- The week of July 17, 2017 in London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Niagara, Hamilton, and Toronto. Those planning to make an oral presentation in any of these locations must provide their name and contact information to Committee Clerk by 10:00am on July 10, 2017.
Alternatively, written submissions may be sent to the Special Committee by 5:30 pm on July 21, 2017.
This gives employers and other stakeholders a first and likely final chance to have their voices heard on the proposed minimum wage increase and other Bill 148 amendments. There have been no prior public consultations on raising the minimum wage. In fact, consideration of the minimum wage was expressly outside the mandate of the Changing Workplaces Review.
If you have questions or concerns about the proposed minimum wage increases or any of the Bill 148 amendments to Ontario’s labour and employment laws, do not hesitate to contact the Norton Rose Fulbright Canada Labour and Employment Team.