Ontario's minimum wage is set to increase by 50 cents this fall, the Progressive Conservative government announced Tuesday, though the raise won't come until after the provincial election.
The proposed wage increase to $15.50 per hour would take effect on Oct. 1. Ontarians are expected to go to the polls in June, and all three major parties are already promising some form of increase to the minimum wage in response to high living costs.
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced the planned wage increase on Tuesday, saying it would "help workers keep up with rising inflation."
The province said the minimum wage raise is tied to the Ontario Consumer Price Index. McNaughton said Tuesday that the government would make an announcement each April about the planned minimum wage increase, based on inflation at that time, with the change to take effect in October.
"For workers out there, they can know under Premier (Doug) Ford that the minimum wage is going to go up every October," McNaughton said, adding that the government is trying to "rebalance the scales" for workers as the province rebuilds from COVID-19.
Ford's government previously cancelled a 2019 minimum wage increase to $15 from $14 per hour that had been planned by the former Liberal government.
The Progressive Conservatives then raised the wage to $15 per hour in January of this year. Ford said when announcing the change that it was done to make life more affordable for people, and that the pandemic had changed the situation.
When asked to comment on that policy reversal Tuesday, McNaughton pointed to other worker-friendly measures the government had introduced over the last year.
Other provincial parties are making promises to boost the minimum wage if elected.
The Opposition New Democrats have said they would raise the minimum wage to $16 as of Oct. 1 if elected to form government, and bring the wage to $20 per hour in 2026.
The Liberals are promising a wage increase to $16 per hour by Jan. 1, 2023 if they are elected. That party has said it also planned to work towards a regionally adjusted living wage, which some advocates have pegged at $22 in Toronto.