Oct 1, 2023

What does the minimum wage increase mean to Ontarians facing a record cost of living?

Today, the Government of Ontario increased minimum wage to $16.55 per hour, up from $15.50. This amounts to an annual pay increase of nearly $2,200, before taxes, for those working 40 hours per week. Additionally, minimum wage increased to $15.60 an hour, up from $14.60 for students and those under 18.  

Unfortunately, despite being a step in the right direction, it is still not enough to be a living wage, which is $23.15/hour in Toronto. The minimum wage increase will lead to more money in the pockets of low-income earners, but it won’t be enough to make a difference as inflation and the cost of living continue to outpace wage increases. 

According to Statistics Canada’s latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) released in September 2023, headline inflation had risen 4.0% year-over-year in August, indicating that inflation is not going anywhere anytime soon. Canadians continue to pay more for cereal products (up 9.8%), and fresh or frozen chicken (up 8.9%), fresh or frozen beef (up 11.9%), coffee and tea (up 9.0%), as well as for sugar and confectionery (up 10.9%).  

Not only are people paying more for groceries, but having a job is no longer enough to protect individuals from experiencing food insecurity. In fact, in the 2022 Who’s Hungry reportone in three (33%) food bank clients reported employment as their primary source of income, which is more than double the rate (16%) from 2021.

The high cost of living is aggravating food insecurity levels, as the number of people using food banks has continued to increase, reflecting the challenges faced by these individuals in accessing necessities like food, transportation, and healthcare. In August 2023 alone, Daily Bread member food banks saw over 274,000 visits, a 51% increase compared to August 2022.  

At Daily Bread Food Bank, we strongly recommend government action that mitigates the challenges that many are facing in Ontario, such as reinstating equal pay protections, expanding sick days, and creating a portable benefits program to support low-income earners, in addition to progressively raising the minimum wage to a living wage.  

For more ways to get involved in Daily Bread’s advocacy work, click here. 

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