Chris Mostert is happy to be getting a small raise today. The first-year BBA co-op student will be one of many Ontario workers to benefit from Thursday’s 25-cent bump in the Ontario minimum wage.
The increase to $11.25 an hour gives Ontario the second-highest minimum wage in Canada — behind only the Northwest Territories.
The move will have an impact on thousands of Brock University students who work part-time, minimum wage jobs in order to help fund their post-secondary education.
As an employee at Thundering Waters golf course, Mostert will see an immediate change in his paycheque.
“It feels pretty good,” said Mostert. “I won’t notice the raise that much, but it’s always nice to be making more.”
Mostert’s outright enthusiasm was not echoed by all. Second-year English Literature student Alisha Lemire said the raise won’t have a big impact on her bottomline.
“As a server it doesn’t affect me. Normally I just use my tips and the rest goes straight to the bank,” she said.
With the wage for liquor servers rising to $9.80 an hour, Lemire — a server at Milestones in Niagara Falls — will also see a slight increase in her paycheque. However, she noted that due to being in school the impact of such a small raise will be minimal.
“I don’t think it will really make a difference, because I only work 10 or 15 hours in a week,” she said.
With nearly 11 per cent of all Ontario workers earning minimum wage, the increase is sure to have an impact of some degree on the daily routines of many Ontarians.
Brock University Department of Economics Professor Felice Martinello said while the increase is a positive step, it won’t necessarily fix the bigger problem in Canada.
“The minimum wage is touted as a cure for lots of things that do need fixing in our society. Minimum wage is actually a very blunt and poor instrument for addressing the problems we want to address — namely that some people have very low incomes or few opportunities.”
Martinello emphasized that the pay raise is not reaching the members of society it is intended to help.
“You want the minimum wage to help the poor, but when you actually look at who will be affected by that 25-cent increase, only a very small portion are poor. Tons of the minimum wage earners are teenagers or households who aren’t poor at all,” he said.
Regardless of the intended beneficiaries it is clear that many in the Brock community are happy with the raise.
Brendan Caprenter, a third-year Sport Management student, was quick to point out that though the benefits of such a small raise on a part-time employee may seem minimal, it is certainly better than having no change at all.
“I’m happy, every 25 cents counts in the long run. I won’t complain, it’s nice to have a little extra money,” he said.
It’s clear that most students welcome an increase in pay. What remains unclear is whether such a small increase will have any tangible impact on the lives of those who the wage hike is intended to help most.