Essential workers say: “Compliments don't pay the rent.”
TORONTO, September 21, 2020 -- For the many poorly paid frontline heroes who keep our economy running, Ontario's minimum wage adjustment scheduled for October 1, 2020 should have provided much better financial relief.
Instead, after Doug Ford’s 34-month freeze, Ontario’s minimum wage will still fall below Statistics Canada’s low-income measure of poverty.
"Had Ford not cancelled the $15 minimum wage, which was previously scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 2019, Ontario’s minimum wage would have been $15.65 on October 1,” said Pam Frache, Coordinator of the Fight for $15 & Fairness.
“In effect, Premier Doug Ford cut the hourly wages of essential workers by $1.40/hr,” said Frache. “For a single hour worked by the more than one million minimum wage earners in Ontario, this represents a loss to workers and a windfall to corporations of nearly $1.5 million. This is a slap in the face to essential, frontline, workers who put their health and safety on the line to keep our communities clean, fed and cared for.”
According to Statistics Canada, between 1998 and 2018, the proportion of employees working for minimum wage in big businesses increased by almost 300%. By contrast, the proportion of workers paid the minimum wage at small businesses decreased over the same period.
“I feel like there’s a huge gap here between words and deeds,” said Rechev Browne, a grocery store worker in Toronto. “One the hand, Doug Ford heaps praise upon frontline workers like me, but on the other hand, he cancelled the $15 minimum wage and scrapped paid sick days. Honestly, compliments don’t pay the rent or keep us safe,” said Browne.
For minimum wage earners in federally-regulated sectors, however, a long overdue raise, may be within reach.
"Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15 in 2020 and ensure annual adjustments to keep up with inflation. This promise was re-iterated by federal Labour Minister Filomena Tassi in a statement issued on Labour Day,” said Frache. “Workers from across the country will be listening closely to the throne speech to make sure our elected representatives keep their word."
Organizers from the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign are available for comment.
For more information or to arrange interviews:
Communications Coordinator, Fight for $15 & Fairness
[email protected] l 647-710-5795