Come June 1, the minimum wage, frozen since 2010, will rise from $10.25 to $11 an hour in Ontario.
From 2008 to 2010, the minimum wage went up by $2.25 an hour, a 28 per cent increase over three years. This year, however, it won’t reach half this amount.
The announcement, made on Jan. 30, brought forth considerable discussion on the chances of growth in the unemployment rate and cutting hours. On the other hand, the action compensates for the seven per cent hike on consumer prices during the last four years.
“The increase on minimum wage will have immense effects on my life. Being a student who is trying to juggle a job as well is very overwhelming,” said Tiffany Jones, student of medical office administration at George Brown College (GBC). “Although the increase won’t have a large impact on my net pay, having a minimal increase will alleviate some of the stress.”
When asked what would be an effective minimum wage for her today, Jones said that based on rental prices $13 an hour would be fair.
“If that’s the case then I don’t see how it would make any kind of impact in my life. Do I think it’s enough? Unfortunately I don’t think it is,” said Emilia Soza, also a medical office administration student at GBC. “The cost of living in Toronto, and I imagine in most cities in Ontario, has gone up every year along with food prices, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I know plenty of people who struggle with just $11 an hour”
Students working part-time at the Student Association (SA) will also see a pay hike. Mohammad Ali Aumeer, the SA’s director of Education and Equity said, “Part-timers will be paid $13.75 an hour from June 1.”
While labour and community groups, including the Canadian Federation of Students — of which the SA is a member — were calling on the government to raise raise the minimum wage to $14 an hour, the SA’s policy is to pay 125 per cent of the minimum wage as the base wage for part-time staff.
It does not necessarily mean more job positions will be available for students in the near future.
“We want to make sure students are not only making their money, but also reaping experience while offering good services. It’s all about doing a good job,” said Aumeer, stating that the hiring will depend on demand.
With the rising minimum wage, the question remains: will a 75 cent increase be enough to lift workers out of poverty?