McGuinty freezes minimum wage

TheStar.com – news/Ontario
Published On Fri Feb 11 2011.   Canadian Press

Ontario’s lowest earners will see their wages frozen this year for the first time in seven years, sparking fierce criticism from labour groups.

The Liberal government decision announced Friday leaves the province’s minimum wage at $10.25 an hour, marking an end to a series of annual hikes that followed the party’s election in 2003.

“We’ve increased it, I think, seven times in seven years,” Premier Dalton McGuinty said after a speech in Oakville. “It’s now the highest in the country.”

In fact, while Ontario’s minimum wage is highest among provinces, Nunavut leads the country at $11.00. By contrast, the $8 level in British Columbia is the lowest in the country.

McGuinty said many employers were only now recovering from the global economic downturn of the last few years, and the wage freeze would help them get back on their feet.

“We’ve just come through a terrible recession,” the premier said.

“Businesses are just beginning to grow at a very modest pace. We think that we’ve struck the appropriate balance, given the times.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour said minimum-wage earners were already struggling to cope with rising food, housing and other costs of living.

“The government is willing to give corporate tax breaks worth billions of dollars to very profitable corporations,” said federation president Sid Ryan.

“To then turn around and say to the most vulnerable in society ‘We can’t give you a modest little increase’ is a horrible decision.”

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