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Ontario Premier Doug Ford attends a press briefing in Toronto, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. A proposed Ontario law would give workers the right to wear a poppy during the week of Remembrance Day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris YoungChris Young/The Canadian Press

The latest: Doug Ford reverses course, hikes Ontario’s minimum wage to $15 an hour

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government is set to increase the province’s minimum wage to $15 an hour on Jan. 1, after previously cancelling the wage hike, according to a senior government source.

Mr. Ford will make the announcement on Tuesday, the source told The Globe and Mail. The Globe is not naming the official as they were not authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations.

The change means those earning minimum wage will see a boost to $15 an hour from $14.35 starting next year. The increase will also apply to the $12.55 “liquor servers minimum wage” paid to bartenders and wait staff who earn tips, the source said. The news was first reported by the Toronto Star on Monday.

Mr. Ford and Labour Minister Monte McNaughton have been making overtures to workers over the past several weeks, as the Progressive Conservatives prepare for the June election. After taking power in 2018, Mr. Ford almost immediately cancelled moves by his Liberal predecessors to raise the minimum wage and grant workers paid sick days – the latter a policy the government then resisted restoring for months in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called on Mr. Ford to “significantly” increase the minimum wage for workers.

“May I remind this Premier that he said no to a $15 minimum wage three years ago? It was one of the first big noes that he said to the workers of this province,” she said in the Legislature.

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca accused the Premier on Tuesday on being “desperate” for votes.

Ryan Mallough, senior director of provincial affairs for Ontario with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, on Tuesday said the move would hurt small businesses who are still struggling from the pandemic.

“Ouch. At a time when small-business revenues are lagging (37 per cent at normal levels) and the cost of doing business is going up, this is going to put a lot of small-business owners … in a tough spot,” he wrote on Twitter.

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