TORONTO, Nov. 6, 2014 /CNW/ - Low-income workers applaud the Liberal government's legislation that will index the minimum wage to cost of living increases, but stand united in calling for a minimum wage that lifts workers out of poverty.
"Tying the minimum wage to increases in the consumer price index was a key demand of the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage," said Deena Ladd, coordinator of the Workers' Action Centre. "Typically, real-dollar increases in the minimum wage are slow in coming, so pegging the minimum wage to the cost of living means workers won't lose as much purchasing power each year."
Alastair Woods, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario agrees that indexing the minimum wage is a positive step, but he points out that an $11 minimum wage is inadequate for workers and for students trying to pay for college or university. "At $11 an hour, people are still falling well-below the poverty line – even if they are working full-time. That makes it difficult to live, let alone pay for school."
Woods also notes that, Ontario is the only remaining jurisdiction in Canada that maintains a lower student minimum wage. While the general minimum wage increased from $10.25 to $11.00 an hour on June 1, the student minimum wage increased from $9.60 to $10.30. Liquor servers will receive only $9.55 an hour. "All workers, regardless of their age, occupation or educational status, deserve the same minimum wage," said Woods. "And that wage should bring them at least 10% above the poverty line when they work full-time."
Concerns about minimum wage exemptions are echoed by the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. "Most people don't know that workers in occupations, regardless of their citizenship status, are explicitly exempted," says Syed Hussan. "Many farm workers who are migrant workers, for instance, are exempted from minimum wage laws, vacation pay and overtime requirements. This is a huge hole in our social safety net that must be repaired. Migrant workers deserve equal wages."
SOURCE: Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage
For further information: Deena Ladd, Workers' Action Centre, cell: 416-836-2379; Karen Cocq, Workers' Action Centre, cell: 647-970-8464; Alastair Woods, Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, cell: 647-378-8942