If there's one recent change in Ontario that has sparked the most controversy, it's definitely the minimum wage price hike that came earlier this year. While many were happy to welcome higher per hour wages for workers, others believed it was unnecessary and harmful, considering how many companies responded by laying people off.
The topic of minimum wage isn't just about the current wage of $14 an hour though, as Ontario's minimum wage system is unique to all of the other provinces in Canada. Ontario is the only province that still has a reduced minimum wage for students who are under 18 and work part-time during the school year or their holidays.
Initially, student minimum wage was brought in because the government believed that it would help “to facilitate the employment of younger persons." With their wages being lower, it would encourage employers to hire students, even though they had less work experience than older candidates.
Unfortunately, it seems that since it was first introduced, many continue to lean on that reasoning to justify keeping the lower wage in place. CIBC Chair of Youth Employment was even quoted at the University of Toronto saying that raising student minimum wage could result in a reduction in their employment by "perhaps 2% or so."
The reason many don't see this changing in the near future has to do with the fact that Bill 47 will halt minimum wage in Ontario at $14 an hour, blocking the increase to $15 that was expected in January 2019. The same bill covers the price halt for student's minimum wage where it will stay at $13.15 rather than getting bumped to $14.10.
As a result, the lost wages that students suffer from is astonishing, as two Canadian scholars discovered in 2017. As a result of the lower wages, Canadian students were collectively losing $25 million in wages per year. The same scholars believe the issue has become "discrimination" under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Over this past weekend, students arrived at Yonge and Bloor to protest Bill 47, claiming that even though they are not old enough to vote yet, they still have a voice.
While it's still unclear whether or not Ontario students will get the $1 hike in wage, the discussion is clearly more than just about a $1 price increase. Rather, it's about the issue of having a separate wage category for students in the first place.
Source: Toronto Star