Last election, Doug Ford touted buck-a-beer.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath promises that if elected premier in June, she will boost the minimum wage to $20 an hour by 2026.

STEVE RUSSELL - TORONTO STAR

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath promises that if elected premier in June, she will boost the minimum wage to $20 an hour by 2026.

Last election, Doug Ford touted buck-a-beer.

Next election, Andrea Horwath is betting on a buck-a-year.

In an announcement Tuesday morning, the Ontario NDP leader said if elected premier in June, she will boost the minimum wage to $20 an hour by 2026, starting with $16 next October and rising by $1 each year.

“The price of everything is going up — from gas to housing to hydro bills — and with Doug Ford’s low-wage policy, everyone is feeling the squeeze,” Horwath said. “Minimum wage earners are working their tails off and still can’t get ahead of the bills. They make sacrifices to buy the necessities for the kids, and often pick up a second or even third job to make ends meet.”

Ford — who in 2019 cancelled an increase set out by the previous Liberal government to $15 an hour — announced earlier in November that he would hike it to that amount on Jan. 1 and also raise the pay of liquor servers to $15 from the current $12.55.

Going forward, minimum wage will rise yearly and be tied to inflation.

Labour Minister Monte McNaughton told the Star that the province’s plan “will benefit 760,000 people and we have another minimum wage increase that will come forward in October” of about 50 cents an hour “and we’ll continue with annual minimum wage increases after that.

The pay hike will be announced in April, and come into effect in October, giving businesses ample notice, he added.

The NDP said its plan “offers local businesses a stable, predictable path so they can prepare for changes, and will also include a fund to help with the transition for legitimately struggling small-and medium-sized local businesses, farms and agribusinesses.”

Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy