Boost minimum wage to decrease poverty

Posted on in Policy Context – opinion/letters –

Re: Union workers’ wages are higher — Aug. 22
Aug. 27, 2013.   Linda Terry


In this article, Chamber of Commerce general manager Greg Durocher made a couple of false assertions related to the effect that raising the minimum would have on the poverty line.

It is important to note that minimum wage work is no longer confined to young people and the service sector. Individuals over the age of 35 now make up over a third of all minimum wage workers. More than half of them work for large, profitable corporations with more than 500 employees. Many are parents who, despite working full-time, are unable to make ends meet for their families. In Ontario, over one third of children living in poverty had one or more parents working full-time.

In Ontario, minimum wage workers are living close to 20 per cent below the poverty line. Despite working full-time, year-round, minimum wage workers and their families have to struggle with monthly cycles of hunger and hardship. They have not seen a raise in more than three years and coupled with the increases in the cost of living, minimum wage workers have seen the real value of their earnings decrease by almost seven per cent over that time.

Consumer spending is the engine that powers our local economy. Working families invest their wages into the local economy, patronizing at local businesses. Raising the minimum wage is a key strategy for boosting consumer spending without increasing provincial or federal budget deficits or increasing costs to taxpayers.

The only impact raising the minimum wage would have on the poverty line would be that more Ontario families would be able to live above it.

Bringing low-wage workers above the poverty line makes economic sense. It puts money in the pockets of working families that will be spent on goods and services, boosting the local economy and creating jobs in our community. It’s only fair that if you work full-time, year-round that you earn enough to make a living.

Linda Terry, Executive Director, Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries, Cambridge

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