Hike the minimum wage, indeed
TheStar.com – opinion/Readers’ letters – Re: Fight poverty, boost wages, Editorial Sept. 18
Sep 23 2013. Murray MacAdam
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
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