Liberal government to announce increase in Ontario's $10.25 an hour minimum wage
TORONTO - Nearly 500,000 of the lowest paid workers in Ontario find out today how much of a raise they'll get this year when the Liberal government unveils the new minimum wage for 2014.
The Liberals froze the minimum wage at $10.25 an hour in 2010, after increasing it annually from $6.85 in 2004.
An expert panel recommends the government tie future increases in the minimum wage to the rate of inflation, and adjust it on April 1 each year.
Premier Kathleen Wynne likes that idea, but says she knows it will be hard to please those who want an immediate jump to $14 an hour and those who warn any increase could kill jobs.
Wynne predicts no one will be happy with the decision the government makes to set the new minimum wage.
Government sources say there will be a catch-up increase basically adding the annual inflation rates for the past four years to the $10.25 rate.
Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi says it was "unfair" for Ontario's last Conservative government to freeze the minimum wage for eight years, but won't say why it was okay for the Liberals to keep the same rate for four years.
Anti-poverty activists have been pushing the province for an immediate jump in the minimum wage to $14 an hour, but Naqvi that would be "too much" for businesses to handle and could end prompt some to cut jobs.
"Our focus is really to ensure that there is fairness and predictability," he said. "That's why we asked the panel to give us advice so the minimum wage is determined on objective criteria, not on the whim of any political party or leader."
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