60% of Ontarians support $15 minimum wage, poll finds

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks at the National Assembly in Quebec City, Thursday, September 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Francis Vachon

A new poll suggests strong support for a $15 minimum wage in Ontario, especially among women and younger people.

According to the Angus Reid Institute, 60 per cent of those surveyed online either support or strongly support the measure. Thirty per cent were opposed, and 10 per cent offered no opinion.

The first step in the province’s move towards a $15 minimum wage kicks in on Jan. 1, when Ontario’s hourly rate will rise to $14 from $11.60. The boost to $15 is set for New Year’s Day 2019.

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The poll says support for the minimum wage hike, which was passed in November along with several other labour reforms, is most popular among those 18 to 34. Thirty-eight per cent of that age group strongly supports the minimum wage hike, compared to 23 per cent for other age groups.

Women are more likely to be in favour, at 67 per cent, compared with 53 per cent of men, according to the poll.

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Ontario passes labour reforms, hikes minimum wage

The $15-dollar minimum wage is among a raft of consumer-friendly policies unveiled by the Ontario Liberals in the year leading up to the June 2018 provincial election, along with changes in real estate rules intended to cool the Golden Horseshoe market, and reductions in hydro bills.

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The party has been in power since 2003. Kathleen Wynne, who was sworn in as premier a decade later replacing Dalton McGuinty, won a majority mandate in 2014.

According to the Angus Reid survey, those who voted Liberal or New Democrat in the 2014 election are “overwhelming supportive” of the minimum wage boost, at 74 and 69 per cent respectively.  About half of Progressive Conservative voters, however, oppose it, compared with 40 per cent who support it.

In September, Ontario’s Financial Accountability officer estimated that more than 50,000 people could lose their jobs due to the minimum wage increase, while a report from TD Bank suggested the measure could lead to the loss of up to 90,000 jobs by 2020.

Following criticism from business groups, the province announced a cut in the corporate tax rate  from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent  on the same day the $14 minimum wage kicks in.

The results were obtained as part of a survey conducted online from Dec. 7  to 14.  The respondents 817 Ontario residents  are members of the Angus Reid Forum, a market research community. A probability, or random, sample of that size have a would have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. 

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With files from the Canadian Press

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