Six-in-ten Ontario residents support legislation to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour

Six-in-ten Ontario residents support legislation to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour

Women and millennials are especially supportive of the measure

December 28, 2017 – With a provincial election slated for next summer and a premier who has consistently been ranked as Canada’s least popular over the last 18 months, Ontario’s long-governing Liberal Party has been searching for policy wins.

A new analysis of quarterly polling data by the Angus Reid Institute shows that the party may have found at least one one in recently passed legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2019. Six-in-ten Ontarians (60%) say they support new law – twice as many as oppose it (30%).

This favourable assessment from the Ontario public may be partially responsible for the slight uptick in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s approval rating this quarter.

Related – One-in-five approve of Wynne as 2017 comes to a close


More Key Findings:ontario minimum wage

  • The minimum wage change is especially popular among residents ages 18-34. Nearly four-in-ten (38%) say they “strongly support” it, compared to 23 per cent or fewer among other age groups
  • Two-thirds of Ontario women (67%) are in favour of the measure, while a smaller majority of men (53%) say the same
  • Opinion on this question also varies along political lines, with those who cast ballots for the Liberals or the New Democratic Party in the 2014 election overwhelmingly supportive of a minimum wage increase, while those who voted for the Progressive Conservative Party are more likely to oppose it (51% do) than support it (40%)



  • Age, gender, income drive opinions

  • The political story


Age, gender, income drive opinions

The legislation passed at the end of November will raise Ontario’s minimum wage almost immediately. On Jan. 1, 2018, it will jump from $11.60 to $14 per hour, and it will rise again to $15 on Jan. 1, 2019.

More than one-in-four residents (27%) say they support this change “strongly,” and another one-in-three (34%) offer less-emphatic support. Notably, strong support outnumbers strong opposition to the law by a two-to-one margin:

ontario minimum wage

It’s estimated that one-quarter of Ontario’s workforce – some 1.6 million people – currently earn less than $15 per hour, meaning a substantial number of Ontarians will be receiving raises next month.

Some six-in-ten (61%) of those who live in households earning less than $50,000 annually say they support the wage hike – a total essentially identical to the province-wide average. Support rises slightly among those with household incomes between $50,000 and $100,000, and declines among wealthier households, as seen in the following graph:

ontario minimum wage

Opinion on the minimum wage plan also varies by age and gender, though in different ways. Members of the millennial generation – those ages 18-34 in this poll – are not much more likely than the general population to support the law, overall (63% do), but they are more likely to offer strong support, as seen in the graph that follows.

ontario minimum wage

The difference between women and men on this question, meanwhile, is between support and opposition. While majorities of both genders support the plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2019, fully two-thirds of women (67%) take this position, while significantly fewer men do. Notably, 60 per cent of minimum wage workers in Canada are women.

ontario minimum wage

The political story

The idea of a $15 minimum wage has been championed by left of centre politicians and activists for years. Founded in 2012, the grassroots organization “Fight for $15” claims 300 chapters in cities on all six inhabited continents.

In Canada, the $15 minimum wage has primarily been an NDP policy priority. Alberta’s NDP government passed legislation in September 2016 that will see minimum worker compensation rise to $15 per hour by October 2018, and Ontario’s New Democrats had made upping the wage a centrepiece of their platform heading into next year’s election – at least until Wynne’s Liberals made the idea their own.

Wynne’s embrace of a $15 minimum wage represents a reversal of her party’s previous position, but this polling data suggests it is a popular one. Almost three-quarters (74%) of those who voted for the Liberals in the 2014 provincial election say they support the government’s proposal, as do seven-in-ten past New Democrats (69%).

Of course, how one voted in the 2014 election is not necessarily predictive of how one will vote in 2018. The fact that people who voted for Wynne’s Liberals last time around are broadly supportive of this minimum wage initiative does not necessarily mean they will cast ballots for the party again in the future.

Those who supported the Progressive Conservatives in the last election are more divided than past Liberal and NDP voters. Slightly more than half (51%) oppose the change to a $15 per hour minimum wage, while a substantial minority (40%) support it.

In response to the government’s decision, the PCs have promised to phase in the changes over four years, increasing the minimum wage by 25 cents per year between 2018 and 2022. The initial jump from $11.60 to $14 will take place before this summer’s election, however.

ontario minimum wage

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

Click here for the full report including tables and methodology


Shachi Kurl, Executive Director: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Associate:  250.899.0821