Why a meaningful minimum-wage increase is long overdue

Ontario increased the rate to $14 on Jan. 1, and will bump it up again in 2019, to $15.

On Jan. 1, Ontario’s minimum wage increased to $14 an hour. One year later, it will rise to $15. The changes have drawn mixed reactions, but here’s why I think the move is good for Ontario.

I see minimum wage as the “minimum” amount of money a person has to earn to afford the basic necessities of life. The cost of living in cities such as Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and Burlington is among the highest in Canada.

The average cost to rent an apartment in the GTA is $1,233. On top of that, average monthly expenses in a city such as Toronto are $1,079.10, according to Numbeo, a crowd-sourced, data-mining site.

At a minimum wage of $11.40 (the rate that applied for most of 2017), one person simply cannot survive on their own in Ontario. Here’s the math: If that person works 40 hours a week, they would earn $2,010.10 a month. That would leave them $302 short of being able to afford the necessities of living in a city like Toronto and a similar amount short in other cities in the GTA (and that’s without factoring in things like income tax and time off).

At the 2019 minimum wage of $15, however, a person working 40 hours a week would make $2,600, putting them in a position to afford all the expenses needed to live on their own.

Yes, people have raised concerns, from companies cutting jobs to price increases in a range of goods and services. But even with past smaller minimum-wage increases, prices have still gone up and inflation, however low, remains an issue for minimum-wage workers.

As well, many news outlets recently have interviewed small-business owners who say they will have to raise prices because of the minimum-wage increase.

The increase is meant to help compensate for inflation over the past few years. People earning minimum wage, or even close to it, are struggling to survive while everything is getting more expensive. It’s about time the minimum wage actually rises by a meaningful amount.