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Ontario business coalition urges five-year implementation of minimum wage hike

On this week's Focus Ontario, Queen's Park cracks down on careless, distracted and drug impaired drivers. More reason for concern when it comes to young students struggling with math. A fond farewell to Wiarton Willie. And, the controversy ramps up over plans to boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour. We put the tough questions to the Minister of Labour.

TORONTO – A new report from a business coalition says the Ontario government could cut the risk of job losses related to its plan to raise minimum wage by 74 per cent if it extended the policy phase-in period.

The Keep Ontario Working Coalition, which includes groups such as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Council of Canada, says that if the government implemented the change over a five-year-period, instead of the planned two years, it could decrease the risk of job loss.

READ MORE: $15 minimum wage could cost Ontario economy up to 90,000 jobs by 2020: TD Bank report

The coalition conducted its own economic analysis of the minimum wage increase earlier this year which concluded over 185,000 jobs could be impacted by the hike.

In July, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced her government would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2019. The increase would be phased in gradually and would rise with inflation, as scheduled, from $11.40 currently to $11.60 in October, to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018 and $15 the following year.

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READ MORE: Ontario chamber cautiously optimistic about minimum wage hike help

The latest report comes two weeks after the province’s economic watchdog, the Financial Accountability Office, estimated the minimum wage increase would see more than 50,000 people lose their jobs, mostly among teens and young adults.

But many economists support the government move, saying studies have shown hiking the minimum wage boosts economic activity and increases people’s purchasing power.

VIDEO: Liberals to increase hourly minimum wage in Ontario

Liberals to increase hourly minimum wage in Ontario
Liberals to increase hourly minimum wage in Ontario