10-cent minimum wage increase sitting poorly with northern labour advocates

Some minimum wage workers in Timmins told CTV they feel slighted by a measly 10-cent pay bump, a local grocery store clerk said he doesn't feel comfortable with minimum wage being increased at all. Oct.1/21 (Sergio Arangio/CTV News Northern Ontario)

With Ontario's 10-cent minimum wage increase now in effect, labour advocates in the northeast feel not only is it a paltry raise, but that it's disrespectful to people who deserve a living wage.

The executive director of the Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre, Scott Florence, feels it's especially insulting to minimum wage workers tasked to keep essential services running throughout this pandemic.

"We praised people for continuing to keep us all going during this pandemic, but we're treating them like crap," said Florence.

"This dime increase in their minimum wage is not enough."

That brings the general minimum wage to $14.35, student wage to $13.50 and liquor servers' minimum pay to $12.55.

While some minimum wage workers in Timmins told CTV they feel slighted by a measly 10-cent pay bump, a local grocery store clerk said he doesn't feel comfortable with minimum wage being increased at all.

"I believe as our wages go up, the prices of things are going to slowly go up with it and it's not really going to do much," said Nicholas Smith, echoing similar concerns raised by business owners in the province when minimum wage increased to $14 in 2018.

"I think instead, there should just be an incentive for people to find higher-paying jobs."

Ontario's labour minister Monte McNaughton expressed that sentiment on Monday, suggesting a reluctance to raise the minimum to a livable wage would deter people from pursuing more in-demand and higher-paying jobs.

McNaughton said that people unhappy with the minimum wage should instead consider entering the skilled trades sector, which has been experiencing a labour shortage.

But Florence said raising wages would give the economy a boost by giving people more money to spend, thereby increasing demand for products and resulting in the creation of more jobs to fill that demand.

"If Doug Ford and Monte McNaughton actually want to help give us a boost after this pandemic, let's raise that minimum wage up much closer to what the living wage needs to be: $17, $18, $20, depending on where you live," Florence said.