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Ontario's minimum wage will go up to $14 on Jan. 1

Last Updated Dec 27, 2017 at 12:29 pm EDT

Minimum wage in Ontario will go up to $14 an hour on Jan. 1.

Labour Minister Kevin Flynn was at Yorkdale Shopping Centre on Wednesday morning to make the announcement.

He said as a result of the wage hike, the purchasing power of ordinary Ontarians will increase and an estimated 55 per cent of all retail workers in the province will be getting a raise.

“You’re seeing about 30 per cent of the population right now is making less than 1$5 an hour. Right now, they cant afford to get by — it’s that simple. Those people will all be seeing an increase to their pay up to the $14 mark,” he said.

For those who are worried about small businesses taking a hit, he added that the overriding opinion of the economists they consulted with is that the province is doing the right thing.

“The minimum wage should have a relationship to your ability to be able to just get the basics of life within whichever jurisdiction you’re in,” he said. “This money is going to go right back into main street, its going to go right back into the mom and pop businesses (that you’re talking about) that are concerned.”

Other changes coming into effect on the first day of 2018 include ensuring workers are entitled to at least three weeks of vacation after working with the same employer for five years and the introduction of a new domestic or sexual violence leave.

Under this leave workers are entitled to take up to 17 weeks off from work per calendar year without the fear of losing their jobs if they or their child has experienced or is threatened with domestic or sexual violence. 10 individual days can be taken, one day at a time, for things like medical appointments. Up to 15 weeks of unpaid leave can be taken intermittently for issues that might take more time like moving homes.

The changes are part of the provinces Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act, 2017.

Click here for a full list of changes taking effect in 2018.