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Minimum wage hike a boost to Barrie workers, seen as positive by businesses

The Ontario minimum wage now stands at $15.50 an hour, a 50-cent increase.

This comes when the cost of living has reached record highs after inflation reached a four-decade mark in June.

Anshul Bisht moved to Barrie from India in August to attend Georgian College. The 26-year-old was shocked by the price of food and everyday essentials.

According to Statistics Canada, groceries alone rose nearly 11 percent since last year, leaving Bisht to cut down on his spending and pursue a job in the community to get by while he studies in Ontario.

"I heard on the news that minimum wage is going up. It's great!" said Bisht. "It's more difficult for us to manage our daily needs."

Bisht found employment at Birds Nest, a downtown Barrie funnel cake and waffle cafe, that opened in June.

For many Barrie-area businesses, the pandemic devastated revenue and depleted staffing levels. The Barrie Chamber of Commerce said the hourly increase is a step in the right direction to make life more affordable in Simcoe County.

"It's a necessary evil, you've got costs going up on fuel on groceries and everything else, so it does get us closer to a living number," said Paul Markle, the executive director. "But it still has a long way to go to make this something you can afford to live on."

According to Markle, there were 7,500 new jobs created in Simcoe County in August with 11,000 job openings.

The chamber said many unfilled jobs are concerning as businesses struggle to recruit and balance the rising cost of products.

"When covid first hit, we were only making $12.20 an hour, so it's a great thing to have now but at the same time there's no staff," said Kristin Forder, the manager at Cottage Canoe in Barrie.

The province of Ontario indicated that the minimum wage rates would increase each year on October 1.

The newest rates could be announced on or before April 1, 2023 Top Stories

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