Continuing on with the theme of the minimum wage, which groups in both Canada and the United States are demonstrating to significantly increase, The Star had a good letter in yeterday's edition that points out the hidden costs of having so many working for poverty-level remuneration.
Fight poverty, boost wages, Editorial Sept. 18
The Star underscored a bitter truth with its editorial call for a minimum wage increase: “a lot of people are working hard to remain in poverty,” due to a minimum wage that’s been frozen for over three years. And, as you note, a great many people are affected: more than half a million minimum-wage Ontario workers directly, along with their family members.
It’s important to realize that we all pay the price of poverty-level wages, in many ways. More than 400,000 Ontarians must rely on foodbanks and emergency meal programs to ward off hunger. Many of them are working, but don’t earn to pay rent and meet other basic needs, including food. A minimum-wage increase would enable more of them to buy their own food — and would ease the burden on foodbank volunteers and donors. It would also raise demand at local food stores and other local businesses, thus boosting the local economy.
A fair minimum wage is a basic issue of justice. It’s also a key element of Ontario’s poverty reduction strategy, which has shown disappointing results in recent years. The minimum wage should be set at a level that ensures that work is truly a pathway out of poverty.
If Premier Kathleen Wynne is sincere about her professed desire to be the “social justice Premier,” she needs to affirm her commitment to real progress against poverty and quickly implement a substantial increase in the minimum wage.
Murray MacAdam, Social Justice & Advocacy Consultant, Anglican Diocese of Toronto
On a related note, this video appeared on Alison's blog at Creekside, which I am taking the liberty of cribbing. Although 19 minutes in length, it is well-worth viewing, exposing as it does the kind of hollow and destructive policy advocated by Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak as he promises to bring in 'right-to-work' (i.e., union-busting) legislation should he become the next premier.
As the film shows, young Tim's promises about the prosperity that will ensue if we just get rid of 'those greedy unions that are hobbling the economy' have allure only if we choose to be willfully ignorant of the fact that such measures will lead to lower wages and even more precarious employment than currently exists: