Although minimum wage in Ontario will increase 75 cents to $11 per hour, that's still 16 per cent below the poverty line.
Poverty Free Thunder Bay chairwoman Terri Carter said although she's pleased minimum wage will now be tied to inflation, she's disappointed the province didn't take a stronger stance on pulling people out of poverty.
"People are still going to struggle to pay their rent and food and other necessities," she said Thursday.
The anti-poverty advocacy group had been asking for minimum wage to increase to $14 an hour but Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Thursday that minimum wage would rise from $10.25 per hour to $11 starting on June. 1.
The government will also introduce legislation to tie future increases to inflation. Every April, the province will announce a new minimum wage rate based on the previous year's inflation rate. That rate will take effect six months later in October.
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There are 15,000 people in Thunder Bay living below the poverty line and Carter said the wage increase will make a difference for some people.
"But I think if you're living on your own and paying rent and food, they're still going to have to use the food banks and we're still going to see those huge social housing waitlists," she said.
"They're just struggling. It's hard for them to pull themselves out."
In October, the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce met with the province's minimum wage advisory panel and asked for a predictable and transparent process in determining minimum wage.
The panel released a report recommending the process be tied to inflation.
"The government has listened," she said, calling it a good process.
"It provides predictability. It's fair to employers and employees because everybody is going to know this is how it works and this is how it's going to be and they can plan accordingly," said Robinson.
That predictability is important for small businesses in particular because it allows them to plan their budgets knowing what changes are coming.
Minimum wage hadn't increased since 2010.
MPP Bill Mauro (Lib., Thunder Bay-Atikokan) said the move was a necessary one.
“Today’s increase will make the minimum wage in Ontario the highest in Canada, and through legislation, we hope to provide predictability for employers going forward. This increase to minimum wage is one of the measures we have introduced to support lower income earners, and is in stark contrast to the work of the previous government that froze minimum wage for nine years,” Mauro said in a release.
Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle said he’s been advocating for higher hourly wages for some time.
“Increasing the minimum wage will help improve the standard of living for hardworking people in Thunder Bay - Superior North while ensuring that local businesses have the predictability necessary to plan for the future,” he said.