Groups across Ontario applaud indexation announcement, but minimum wage still not high enough

TORONTO, March 19, 2015 /CNW/ - Organizations from across Ontario are pleased with today's announcement that the minimum wage is going up to $11.25 to keep up with inflation, but say the minimum wage is still too low to bring workers out of poverty.

The Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage organized across the province to have the minimum wage pegged to the cost of living. "This announcement confirms that indexing the minimum wage is crucial for keeping workers from falling further in to poverty," says Anita Khanna, National Coordinator for Campaign 2000. "It's important that the government has recognized that workers' wages need to keep up with inflation, but much more needs to be done to bring Ontarians out of poverty."

The Ontario government announced that the minimum wage will be increased from $11 to $11.25 an hour, effective October 1, 2015. However, there are still entire groups of workers who are exempted from the minimum wage, including students under the age of 18, liquor servers, and farmworkers. "While it's essential that workers' wages not continue to be clawed back by the rising cost of living, this announcement still leaves students and others earning a lower wage," says Alastair Woods, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "Ontario is the only province in this country that still pays students a lower minimum wage, and that is unacceptable. There should be no exemptions to the minimum wage – all workers should be protected equally by universal minimum standards."

Adjustments for inflation are also made when calculating the low-income measure, and as a result, Ontario's minimum wage still leaves someone working full time at least 16% below the poverty line. "Indexation is an important victory for workers," says Deena Ladd, Coordinator at the Workers' Action Centre. "But even with this increase, workers earning minimum wage cannot make ends meet for themselves and their families. If we want to bring workers out of poverty in Ontario, we need a $15 minimum wage."

SOURCE Workers Action Centre

For further information: Anita Khanna, Campaign 2000: 416-788-3439; Alastair Woods, Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario: 647-378-8942; Deena Ladd, Workers' Action Centre: 416-836-2379

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