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Premier Wynne talks what minimum wage hike means for small business, workers and students

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Premier Kathleen Wynne says the plan to raise the minimum wage in Ontario to $15 an hour is to help the people in the province who have struggled to keep up with the rising cost of living. Wynne announced that on top of the 20 cent increase this October, the government will increase the minimum wage to $14 an hour on January 1st, 2018, and $15 per hour on January 1st, 2019.

That announcement has the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce, and small business owners in town concerned about what it’s going to mean for them. Wynne says she understands their concerns, and says the provincial government will be working with small business this summer to address any challenges and figure out how to solve them. Wynne says they’ve already talked about removing regulatory burdens that are specific to small businesses. Wynne wants businesses to thrive and do well, and she says they are, but not everyone is sharing in that success.

Another issue brought up locally was the impact this would have on businesses’ ability to hire students. Wynne says that’s another issue she’ll discuss over the summer with small business, because she wants to see students get summer jobs and be successful. She says that’s one of the reasons they kept the student minimum wage rate in place. Wynne says the reviewers they worked with when crafting the minimum wage plan actually advised them not to do that. But Wynne added they made a decision to keep that in place because they thought it was fair for business and to make sure students get as much experience as they can.

The reality right now, according to Wynne, is people across the province are feeling very uncertain about their ability to look after themselves, and their families despite how well the province is doing financially. She says not everyone is sharing in that. Wynne highlighted the free tuition coming in for over 200,000 students in the province this fall, and the building of child care spaces on top of the minimum wage as ways her government is trying to help Ontarians get ahead. She says 30 per cent of working people in the province haven’t been able to keep up with rising costs and this move is to help them.

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