THE REAL COST OF MINIMUM WAGE: Raise could be life-changing for job-juggling workers

It doesn't matter who you talk to, people are talking about the pending increase in the minimum wage.

Right now Ontario's minimum wage is $11.40/hour with a pre-planned bump next month to $11.60. The province plans to further increase minimum wage to $14 on January 1, 2018 and to $15 on January 1, 2019.

In day two of our series "The Real Cost of Minimum Wage", NEWSTALK 1010 spoke with the people who will be affected the most, the employees. Those front line workers have been struggling to live on what they are making now.

Day one: How will businesses adjust?

Dave Bradley/NEWSTALK 1010

"The increase would help me do what I haven't been able to do in Toronto, which is have savings." says Bethany, who works three jobs, just to make a living. We caught up to her at her job at the Condom Shack on Queen Street West in Toronto.

"If I  had one full time job where I was making 15 an hour, and I was getting 30 hours a week, that's something I could live my life on."

Dave Bradley/NEWSTALK 1010

Marissa, who is 25-years-old, makes a server's wage of $9.90 an hour before tips. She slings drinks at The Warehouse also on Queen West, just down the street from Brittany. She hopes the increase will allow her to move out on her own.

"I'm still not making enough to live in Toronto. Right now I'm living in Brampton, with my mom."

With tips added in, she admits on a good day, she could be making $20 an hour. However, on a slow night, she has to go home with the bare minimum.

And Marissa is concerned about optics.

"If customers see that servers or bartenders are making more money, they may be less inclined to tip. So we might end up making the same amount of money, regardless.

And Bethany isn't blind to the fact that there isn't really going to be new money coming into the store.

"It is a little tough, because I see how much money we make, and I'm not 100% sure where the extra money is going to come from."

While there is some excitement about getting a significant raise by 2019, minimum wage workers are also concerned that they could see reduced hours, or find themselves out of work, if the shop they are working for, closes their doors.