Ontario Plans to Raise Minimum Wage to $15

Ontario Plans to Raise Minimum Wage to $15

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario, Canada's most populous province and industrial heartland, plans to raise its minimum wage to C$15 ($11.14) an hour by 2019, its premier said on Tuesday, putting it far above the national average.

The provincial Liberal government, which is lagging in polls ahead of an election next year, plans to phase in the increase from the current C$11.40 an hour.

Premier Kathleen Wynn said the minimum wage would rise to C$14.00 on Jan. 1, 2018, and climb to C$15 on Jan. 1, 2019.

Canada's minimum wage currently ranges from C$10.72 to C$13 provincially. Energy heavyweight Alberta is planning to raise its minimum wage to C$15 by 2018.

Opinion polls have showed that increasing the minimum wage is popular among Canadians. But businesses faced with increased costs could respond by hiring fewer workers or raising prices.

"I would suspect that in the very near future the cost of a cup of coffee, or a hamburger, or products that we purchase on a regular basis, ... will increase ...," said Karl Baldauf, vice president, policy and government relations at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

"Many businesses will not be able to find a way to absorb these costs and many ... will have to go out of business."

Measures proposed by the province also include mandating equal pay for part-time and full-time workers, according to a news release.

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