SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Ava Smith, Scott Bampton, Elizabeth White, Glenn Rossman, Pat Romanski

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Yearlong Campaign to Raise Minimum Wage Delivers First Victory

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 01/28/14 -- After a yearlong campaign to raise the minimum wage, labour and community groups have secured an historic victory with the unanimous recommendation from Ontario's Minimum Wage Advisory Panel to implement automatic annual increases to the minimum wage. The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) is calling on the Wynne government to immediately implement this unprecedented recommendation and is working with community groups to organize rallies across the province on February 15 to demand that the base wage be lifted above the poverty line.

"The government of Ontario has heard from workers, business owners and the general public and their message has been unanimous - working hard at a job should lift you out of poverty, not drive you further into it," said OFL President Sid Ryan. "The Advisory Panel only considered the issue of regular and depoliticized increases for the future, but it opened the door for a government decision to raise the floor for all workers. Ontario families are counting on the Wynne Government to put this plan into action, while guaranteeing that every job is a pathway out of poverty."

In the winter of 2013, the Ontario Federation of Labour and over 100 community groups launched a "People's Budget" consultation process that called on the Ontario Government to include a minimum wage increase in the province's budget. Premier Kathleen Wynne responded by announcing a minimum wage review as part of last year's budget paper. In June 2013, she struck a Minimum Wage Advisory Panel that was comprised of labour, community and business representatives, including an appointed representative of the Ontario Federation of Labour, Antoni Shelton, and Windsor anti-poverty activist Adam Vasey. For over a year, a broad coalition, led by the Workers' Action Centre, have worked together on a Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage. This February 15, rallies will be held in cities and towns across Ontario to tap into the strong public support for an immediate increase in the minimum wage.

"After languishing at $10.25 an hour since 2010, the province's one million minimum wage earners cannot wait any longer for relief," said Ryan. "The portion of Ontario workers toiling for minimum wage has more than doubled from 4.3 percent to 9 percent over the past decade and the situation is only getting worse."

"A $14 minimum wage would lift every worker 10 percent above the poverty line. By investing in people, Wynne has an opportunity to help working people provide for their families while kick-starting our economy," said Ryan. "This is the kind of concrete action Ontarians expect from anyone promising to be a Social Justice Premier."

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour.

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