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Ontario to increase minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2019

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks at the Ford Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ont. on Thursday, March 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

Ontario is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2019, ensuring equal pay for part-time workers and increasing the minimum vacation entitlement as part of a major labour overhaul.

Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement today in response to a government-commissioned report released last week that included 173 recommendations addressing precarious work.

The Changing Workplaces review concluded that new technology, a shrinking manufacturing sector and fewer union jobs, among other factors, have left approximately one-third of Ontario’s 6.6 million workers vulnerable.

The report didn’t examine the minimum wage, which is currently indexed to inflation and had been set to rise from $11.40 to $11.60 in October, but Wynne says raising it will make a difference in millions of people’s lives.

She says the minimum wage will increase to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018 and will rise to $15 the following year.

About 30 per cent of Ontario workers currently make less than $15 an hour.

Wynne also announced that part-time workers will get equal pay for doing work equal to full-time staff, and that the minimum vacation entitlement will be increased. Instead of getting two weeks of vacation, workers will be able to get three weeks of paid vacation a year after five years with a company.

The changes to workplace laws will also establish fairer rules for scheduling, including making employers play three hours of wages if they cancel a shift with fewer than 48 hours notice.