November 09, 2020

Time to turn up the heat for better wages

With only a few weeks left in 2020, it's urgent we raise our voices to demand the Prime Minister honour his promise to create, in 2020, an indexed, federal minimum wage of at least $15 an hour. Will you take action? Send an email right now to the Prime Minister, the federal Minister of Labour, and opposition party leaders: click here.

Let Justin Trudeau know that $15 is long overdue!

PM Trudeau: Time is running out on $15 promiseEmail the Prime Minister now! 

US election: Voters support higher minimum wage rates

Despite the tension involved in the US presidential election, there is some good news from local ballot initiatives that can provide inspiration for our decent work movement here in Canada.

Florida for $15

First up, Florida voted by more than 60% to raise the minimum wage from $8.25 to $15.00, and to index the wage to inflation thereafter. The fact that more people in Florida voted to raise the minimum wage than voted for Trump should remind us all that raising the minimum wage is a non-partisan issue, even in the highly polarized USA. Florida's wage increase is expected to benefit over 25% of the state's workforce, helping to close the racial and gender wage gap while simultaneously boosting the economy and state revenue. [1] 

Portland for $15

In Portland, Maine, voters overwhelmingly agreed to raise the minimum wage from $12 to $15 and to ensure workers receive pay at time-and-a-half during declared states of emergency such as COVID-19. This means that frontline workers in Portland may receive a minimum wage of $18 USD by the end of 2020. When fully implemented, this measure will improve the incomes of 36% of Portland's wage and salaried workers. And just like in Florida, raising the minimum wage helps close the racial and gender wage gap and boosts the economy at the same time. [2] [3]

Raising the minimum wage is good for everyone

In fact, new US-based research shows that a $15 federal minimum wage would benefit all low-wage workers, but would especially help Black and women workers, as well as others who face systemic discrimination in the labour market. The research also shows that fears of job-loss and rising prices in response to higher minimum wage rates are misplaced. [4] This fear-mongering comes from big business lobbyists like Chambers of Commerce across North America that (as we know from our experience in Ontario) have consistently opposed minimum wage increases regardless of whether the wage increases are fast or slow. [5] 

Global and local support grows for higher minimum wage

Meanwhile, the popularity of decent minimum wage rates continues to grow in the wake of COVID-19. On September 27, voters in Geneva, Switzerland adopted a minimum wage of 23 Swiss Francs per hour (almost $33 an hour in Canadian dollars!). [6]

Closer to home, 91% of the public in Newfoundland and Labrador support a $15 federal minimum wage. [7] In that province, the minimum wage was adjusted on October 1 from $11.65 to $12.15 an hour, but everyone knows it is simply not enough. 

This sentiment helps explain why 1,400 Dominion workers are currently on strike against the retail giant Loblaws. Support them win paid sick days, fair wages, and job security by signing the petition. The Dominion grocery chain in Newfoundland and Labrador is owned by Galen Weston's Loblaws company. Anger is growing at the fact Loblaws is raking in millions in record-breaking profits during the pandemic, yet over 80% of Loblaws workers across Canada still earn the minimum wage - a wage that can be as low as $11.45 in Saskatchewan; $11.70 in New Brunswick; and $11.90 in Manitoba. 

Prime Minister Trudeau: What are you waiting for?

That's why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to step up. In May, Trudeau said those earning minimum wage during this pandemic deserve a raise. We say it's long past time for the federal government to honour its promise to create, in 2020, a federal minimum wage that would be at least $15 an hour and be adjusted by the cost of living increases every year. Knowing the extent of support for a decent minimum wage, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made this promise to get elected in 2019. But time is running out and we need to pull out all the stops to make sure the federal government keeps its promise.

What can YOU do?

1) Email the Prime Minister

Send an email right now and then invite your friends to do the same.

2) Join the online organizing meeting Tuesday, November 10.

Come meet other supporters of the $15 & Fairness campaign to plan upcoming actions. Sign up now (click here) to participate on Tuesday, November 10 at 7:00 pm (ET) at the monthly organizing meeting we co-host with the Ontario Federation of Labour. Upon registering, you will receive the Zoom meeting link as well as dial-in details in case you prefer to attend by phone. Join us!

November 10 sharable

3) Join the federal phone ZAP November 15

On November 15 at 3:00 pm (ET) we will be meeting up online to make phone calls to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Labour and to our own members of parliament. Register here to get the event link and help us spread the word on Facebook (click here).

4) Call your own MP

Call or meet with your own Member of Parliament. To get their contact information, click here and enter your postal code.

Together, we can win!

Thanks for everything you do! Hope to see you on Tuesday (November 10) at 7:00 PM (ET) at our online organizing meeting. Click here to sign up and receive the Zoom meeting link, and see below for the agenda!

Draft agenda for November 10 meeting


[1] Mother Jones on $15 victory in Florida 

[2] News Centre Maine on $15 victory in Portland

[3] People First Portland campaign website

[4] New York Times article on why $15 matters for racial justice

[5] Washington Post article on why Chambers of Commerce oppose minimum wage hikes, despite popularity even among small business owners. 

[6] CTV news story on Switzerland.

[7] Telegram article on local support for $15 in Newfoundland and Labrador