Ontario’s provincial government announced on Tuesday that the province’s minimum wage will be maintained at $14 per hour until 2020. Under the former Liberal government, the minimum wage would have reached $15/hour by January. Therefore, the price freeze comes as good news to many agri industry members.
The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) welcomed the Bill 148 amendments. Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, included updates to minimum wage, vacation time calculations and personal emergency leave.
Fruit and vegetable producers in the province worried about the implications of the new legislation. Labour expenses contribute significantly to their cost of production and competitiveness in export markets. The dramatic increase in hourly wages from $11.60/hour to $14 in January 2018 was called ‘a significant blow to the competitiveness of the sector, which competes with low-cost imported produce’.
According to farms.com, the increase in minimum wage resulted in a $111 million cost per year in Ontario’s fresh produce sector.