Minimum wage increases for the first time in two years

Urszula Sitarz
October 1, 2020
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

Provincial-wide minimum wage increases to $14.25 on Oct. 1, 2020

As of Oct. 1, 2020 the new general minimum wage in Ontario will increase for the first time since the increase to $14.00 per hour from $11.60 per hour on Jan. 1, 2018. That minimum wage increase was put in place by Kathleen Wynne's government in 2017 and the minimum wage was set to increase to $15.00 per hour on Jan. 1, 2019.

The increase to $15.00 per hour was cancelled in September 2018 by the then-newly elected Doug Ford government. The Fight For $15 and Fairness organization, as well as other community and labour groups, opposed the cancellation due to concerns for low-income workers and the high costs of living. The Ford government cited the impact of the $2.40 per hour – nearly 20 per cent – increase on businesses as the reason for the cancellation of the next increase.

The Ontario Living Wage Network is an organization to promote and highlight living wage campaigns across Ontario. The Network has defined a living wage as “the hourly wage a worker needs to earn to cover their basic expenses and participate in their community.”

“The hourly wage a worker needs to earn to cover their basic expenses and participate in their community.”

The website has a Living Wage Employer Directory of certified businesses and organizations that pay their employees the regional living wage or more.

The 2019 living wage in Hamilton, Ontario was $16.45 per hour, an increase from the 2018 living wage of $15.85 per hour. The wage is calculated based on the monthly costs of a family of two adults and two children, both adults work 37.5 hours per week and have no savings or debt repayments.

In March 2020, Ward 3 Hamilton councillor Nrinder Nann presented a motion to increase the minimum wage for all summer students and non-union part-time city employees. The proposed minimum wage was the 2019 Hamilton living wage of $16.45 per hour. The vote was defeated by 10-4. If passed, it would have increased the hourly wages of nearly 1,000 people.

“But if this is socialism as its worst then let's pay for everybody’s bills,” said Councillor Terry Whitehead of Ward 14 who opposed the motion.

In an email statement, McMaster Students Union vice president (Finance) Jess Anderson sent the new MSU wage grid effective Oct. 1, 2020. The MSU wage for all part-time employees was above minimum wage, the lowest current hourly rate at $14.10 and will increase each hourly rate by $0.25.

[media-credit name="Screenshot by Urszula Sitarz, News Editor" align="center" width="880"][/media-credit]

Part-time MSU employees, all full-time students, work variable hours. The Union Market customer service representative job description specified 8-15 hours per week. However, it is unclear if and how hours per week have changed at MSU business units, such as Union Market and TwelvEighty Bar & Grill, have changed due to reduced operating hours.

The McMaster Student Work Program, also known as Work/Study, is available for students with financial need to work a maximum of 10 hours per week during the school year. 

The placements offered through Work/Study require minimum wage but, according to the Registrar, many employers pay above the minimum wage. Of the 27 positions still available as of Sept. 28, 2020, the majority offer above the $14.00 per hour and $14.25 per hour minimum wage.


  • Urszula Sitarz

    Urszula is new to the Silhouette and thrilled to be here! She loves watching Netflix, reading, being outside and spends too much time on Twitter. She is in her last year of Integrated Science and is excited about her thesis in English & Cultural Studies.

Subscribe to our Mailing List

© 2022 The Silhouette. All Rights Reserved. McMaster University's Student Newspaper.