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Ontario advisory panel to review minimum wage

The Ontario government has struck a long-awaited advisory panel to review the province’s minimum wage rates, which have been frozen for more than three years.

Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi announced the members of the independent panel on Wednesday morning in Toronto. They include chair Anil Verma, who is a business professor at the University of Toronto.

The panel representing business, worker and youth groups is expected to hold public consultations throughout the province as part of its comprehensive review of the current minimum wage policy and will provide recommendations on how Ontario should determine minimum wages in the future.

“I am very hopeful that with a balanced approach we can come up with a system that will ensure both job creation and income security for all Ontarians,” Verma said in a release.

The general minimum wage rate has stalled at $10.25 an hour since March 31, 2010, when it was raised from $9.50 an hour. Student minimum wage rate has been frozen at $9.60 an hour for the last three years.

Anti-poverty group Workers Action Centre has been lobbying for $14 an hour this year, the amount the group says is needed to bring the minimum wage 10 per cent above the poverty line for a single person working 35 hours a week.

The advisory panel was first promised by the Liberal minority government in its 2011 budget, and the pledge was renewed by Finance Minister Charles Sousa during his 2013 budget in May.