Minimum wage increase over $2 less than Kingston’s living wage

Earlier this week, the provincial government announced that the minimum wage will drop from $14.35 to $15 starting in January 2022 — a pay rate that’s not even a living wage in the majority of Ontario cities, according to Ontario Living Wage Network.

As the Ontario government announced a minimum wage increase this week, the Ontario Living Wage Network also announced newly calculated living wages for cities across the province. Here in Kingston, the new minimum wage will be more than $2 less than the recently determined living wage. Photo by Victor Ballesteros.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the recent cost of living even more expensive, especially due to rising rents and housing.

According to the new announcement, a full-time worker paid the general minimum wage could see their annual earnings increase by $1,350 in 2022.

Most minimum wage earners are women, and nearly 73% of workers between the ages of 15 and 19 earn minimum wage, according to the Ontario government. Additionally, those working in retail, food service, and other hospitality workplaces often earn minimum wage.

“Ontario workers have been the unsung heroes of this pandemic as they stocked shelves, kept our supply chain moving and helped so many of us enjoy a meal with family and friends in a local restaurant,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. .

“When we asked union leaders what their priorities were, raising the minimum wage was at the top of the list. As the cost of living continues to rise, our government is proud to work for working people, putting more money in their pockets by raising the minimum wage.

After 2022, the minimum wage will increase as needed due to the rate of inflation.

And while raising the minimum wage looks promising, it’s not helping people with the cost of living, according to those who study living wage rates across the province. The new Living Wage for Kingston, also announced this week, is $17.75 an hour. That’s $2.75 more than the minimum $15 an hour Ontarians will earn starting in January.

Although few in number, Kingston has listed living wage employersincluding the City of Kingston, Kingston Community Health Center (KCHC), Weller Pharmacy, Sustainable Kingston Corporation, Trailhead Kingston and United Way of KFL&A.

“The cost of living continues to rise, making it difficult for people to make ends meet. We are seeing a growing number of people who need access to local programs for basic needs like food, shelter and mental health supports,” said Bhavana Varma, President and CEO of United Way. of KFL&A.

“United Way has been a Living Wage Employer since 2018 and is committed to being a Living Wage Employer as we see firsthand the impact of precariousness and underemployment,” she added.

Varma also explained that living wage – as opposed to minimum wage – is a good metric for local employers because it is customized for regions based on the cost of living and basic needs of each community.

Of all the expenses, housing and rent are the most important. In Ontario, the annual increase in rents has been between 1.5 and 2.2 per cent over the past 10 years. In 2020, the provincial government announced a rent freeze; therefore, no rent increase was observed in 2021. However, this policy would end on December 31, 2021 and the rent increase in 2022 will be 1.2%.

Moreover, the annual inflation rate in Canada is between 3.7 and 4.5%, which makes a living wage even more necessary today.

The provincial discussion on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour began three years ago but was only announced this week and will be implemented next year. The new announcement states that students under 18 who work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session should receive $13.50 to $14.10 per hour.

Home-based workers who do paid work from home for employers will see an increase from $15.80 per hour to $16.50 per hour, depending on the province, and hunting and fishing guides will be paid double the amount they previously received: $143.55 for those working less than five consecutive hours (previously $71.75) and $150.05 for those working five hours or more per day (previously $75) .

Michael A. Bynum