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Chamber of Commerce lukewarm on minimum wage increase

By: Jonathan Migneault - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Jan 30, 2014 - 2:21 PM |
The province's announcement that it will raise the minimum wage from $10.25 an hour to $11 an hour on June 1, 2014, was not ideal but better than proposed alternatives, said David Boyce, chair of the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce. File photo.

The province's announcement that it will raise the minimum wage from $10.25 an hour to $11 an hour on June 1, 2014, was not ideal but better than proposed alternatives, said David Boyce, chair of the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce. File photo.

The province's announcement that it will raise the minimum wage from $10.25 an hour to $11 an hour on June 1, 2014, was not ideal but better than proposed alternatives, said David Boyce, chair of the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce.

“The most positive part of it, we believe, is that they've implemented the panel's recommendations for how minimum wage will be changed on a go-forward basis,” Boyce said. “Meaning that it's tied to inflation.”

Anti-poverty groups, such as the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP), have advocated for the province to increase the minimum wage to $14 an hour.

But Boyce said had the province followed their advice, small businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors would have suffered.

“It makes the difference for some businesses between turning a profit and not turning a profit,” he said, regarding the proposed 40-per-cent increase to the minimum wage.

Christy Knockleby, a member of S-CAP, said almost half of minimum wage earners work for multinational corporations, such as MacDonald's and Walmart, that could afford to pay their workers more and still remain profitable.

“They're working for places that are making a profit off of their poverty,” Knockleby said.

Once the increase is implemented, Ontario will have the highest minimum wage of any province in Canada. Only Nunavut, where the cost of living is higher, also has a minimum wage of $11 an hour.

Alberta has the lowest minimum wage, set at $9.95 an hour, and Manitoba currently has the highest for any province, at $10.45 an hour.

Once the minimum wage is increased to $11 an hour, a minimum wage earner working 35 hours a week would make $20,020 a year before taxes.

In 2011, the poverty line in Ontario, after taxes, was $19,719.

Knockleby said even with the increase, minimum wage earners will remain below the poverty line with full-time hours. She added many minimum wage workers don't get full-time hours, and must work several jobs to make ends meet.

“We're asking people not to live day-to-day worried about how they'll get food or pay rent,” she said. “We can expect more from our government.”
Jonathan Migneault

Jonathan Migneault

Staff Writer

@jmigneault

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