The Ontario Progressive Conservatives clarified the party's stance on the planned minimum wage increase Tuesday, promising to phase it in over four years, which would push back the final implementation to 2022.
The Liberal government has promised to raise the minimum wage to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018, followed by $15 an hour on Jan. 1, 2019, followed by increases tied to inflation.
On Tuesday, in their response to the government's fall economic update, the PCs announced that if they take the reigns in the June 2018 election, they will slow down the second phase of the wage increase, increasing the minimum wage by $0.25 a year until it reaches $15 in 2022.
The PCs have been criticizing the wage hike as "too fast, too soon," but this was the first promise of a concrete alternative from the party.
"Middle-class wages have stagnated while the cost of everything from groceries to gas has gone up," said PC Labour Critic John Yakabuski. "This government has had 14 years to fix wages, but instead are choosing to be reckless in an election year."
Yakabuski said the Liberals' wage hike would severely damage Ontario's competitiveness and lead to job losses.