Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne made an appearance on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Wednesday to defend the timing of Tuesday’s minimum wage hike announcement.
Four months ago, she had appeared lukewarm on the possibility of hiking minimum wage up to $15 an hour during a news conference, arguing that yearly increases based on inflation was a system worth sticking to.
Wynne told host Matt Galloway on Wednesday that she’s wanted to raise minimum wage for three and a half years.
“Three and a half years ago, we put a plan in place to increase the minimum wage. What’s happened in that three and a half years is the economy’s gotten much better… but people’s ability to keep up has not gotten better,” she said.
Ontario’s surging economy, she said, meant that “now we’re in a position that it’s time” to push up wages.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath criticized Wynne on Tuesday for the announcement’s timing, just a year out from a provincial election.
“The only time she cares about anything is when it has to do with her own political fortunes,” Horwath said.
On Wednesday, Wynne avoided saying whether the legislation unveiled yesterday was in fact a campaign centrepiece, saying that it was “part of a plan to make this a fairer province.”
Changes to regulatory burden could help businesses adjust: Wynne
The hike is part of a larger piece of legislation, called the Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Act, which aims to protect part-time and contract workers by making changes to rules around vacation time, personal emergency leave, and shift work.
In the wake of the act’s announcement, Wynne has taken criticism from some members of the business community over the possible ramifications of the wage hike and other changes.
Small businesses in particular have said that the higher minimum wage could lead to layoffs and hiring fewer employees.
“You’re increasing minimum wage by almost 25% in a 7-month period. That’s an…