Living Wage - Salaire-subsistance

 
Today in Canada, more 1.3 million of our children live in poverty.  Low wages remain a significant barrier to all Canadians achieving self sufficiency through work. According to Statscan, more than a million people across the country worked for minimum wages or less last year, the fourth year in a row that this shamefully persistent number has been above the one million mark. While levels of education and experience have increased and productivity has grown, real wages remained stagnant from 1981 to 2004 while median wages have grown at a snail’s pace (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives).  Clearly, low wages are a large part of why so many working Canadians remain poor. 
 
Despite the need to address working poverty and the popular support for government action to do so, Canada’s elected leadership has been disturbingly timid on the wage-raising front. No recent increase to the minimum wage or poverty reduction strategy seriously addresses the issue of the sinking wage floor.
 
The need for a grassroots Wages Rising movement in Canada is clearer than ever!
 
ACORN members for the last 10 years have been fighting on a range of wage campaigns. ACORN members and allies won a precedent setting Living Wage Victory in New Westminster, BC. They fought the good fight in Ottawa for a Living wage that built momentum for Minimum Wage campaigns for  $10/hour in 2008 and $14/hour in 2014 in Ontario. 
 
Capacity from each campaign helps build the next and ACORN members from coast to coast are excited to fight!
 
Currently:
·       Living wage campaigns are just getting started in Toronto and Halifax.
 
·       ACORN members are fighting for a federal fair wage of $15/hour for a) workers under federal jurisdiction b) contracted employees and Employees of firms that enter into service contracts with the federal government and c) Employees of firms receiving economic development assistance (grants, tax abatements, low interest loans, etc.) from the federal government.
 
·        BC ACORN and NS ACORN are also fighting for $15 minimum wage campaigns!
 
 

Citizen: Free clinic aims to take pain out of income tax season

A bicycle, new clothes, a trip to the museum -- these are some of the things Andrea Thomas can buy for her children with her income tax refund.

And thanks to a free clinic for low-income earners, the Ottawa mother of three gets to keep even more of her cash.

For a second year, the Ottawa Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is offering to complete and file basic income tax claims for free.

Organizers say the service helps give people autonomy over their financial affairs and lets them contribute to society, but saves them the costly fees storefront tax-filing services levy. The going rate for such a service is around $80.

The clinic also ensures people get all the benefits they deserve, from GST rebates to credits for taking the bus and paying rent.

Last year, ACORN helped more than 600 people file their income taxes.

"It's a great program because it caters to all walks of life," said Matthew Bullock, the tax clinic co-ordinator.

Households earning less than $30,000 per year -- be they recent immigrants, seniors, students, single-parent families or people on income assistance and disability -- are the priority, he added.

News Leader: What constitutes a fair wage?

There’s an old saying that if you pay peanuts, you’re going to attract monkeys, but Gordon Campbell clearly doesn’t see things that way.

There are currently no plans to increase the $8-an-hour minimum wage his government introduced back in 2001, the same year he implemented the Dickensian “First Job/Entry Level” minimum wage policy of $6 per hour for new employees with less than 500 total hours of previous work experience.

Most would agree the province’s minimum wage is not even close to being a living wage as it is pretty much impossible to live on $16,000, the net annual income for someone working a 40-hour week.

To some extent, the onus is falling on municipalities to pick up the slack.

Burnaby city council has implemented a policy that all city contractors have to pay their construction workers a union-equivalent “Fair Wage” while New Westminster is considering becoming the first municipality in Canada to adopt a “Living Wage” bylaw that would pay all municipal workers hourly wages substantially higher than the bare provincial minimum.

EMC: Ease taxing times at Vanier's free tax clinic

In terms of filing your taxes, that is.

For the second year in a row, the Vanier-based activist group ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) will be hosting a free tax clinic through the tax season. The office fully opened up at ACORN HQ at 81 Montréal Road, Unit F, on Tuesday, March 2, and runs until Saturday, May 15. Tax filing day is Friday, April 30.

While Acorn offered a satellite tax filing office in Hintonburg in the west end last year, the operations have been centralized in Vanier for this year.

"It's better to have it concentrated in one location. All of our information is here," said Centretown resident Matthew Bullock is the group's tax site coordinator, during the media launch for the program on the morning of Friday, February 19.

The Province: Protesters demand improved child care for poor

B.C.'s child care subsidy program is not working for the working poor of Surrey, says community group B.C. ACORN.

Sara Salaway, a Surrey mom who heads B.C. ACORN's child care committee, led a protest Tuesday outside the Surrey office of the Ministry of Children and Families.

"The working poor looking for child care, it's a difficult task," Salaway, a mother-of-two, told The Province.

She said child care costs are typically $700 to $900 a month and the government subsidy -- which ranges from $200 up to $750 per month -- is not available for families earning more than $38,000.

"If they make more than [the threshold] they don't quality for any kind of help," she said.

Salaway also said it's hard for families to find out information about the subsidy program, and wants to make it easier to obtain. "It's word of mouth," she said. "You need to know the services are out there."

Next month, B.C. ACORN intends to ask the City of Surrey to open a municipal-run childcare centre, which would be run as a pilot program by the municipality, in a partnership with the community.

Free Tax Prep and Financial Literacy

ACORN Canada is currently expanding our Free Tax Prepeeration and Financial Literacy programming. We have built on the success of our FITS Project (free income tax sites) which involved creating storefronts and a community presence for financial literacy training.  In 2007, 2008, and 2009 ACORN collaboratively ran FITS free tax preparation centers in both Toronto and the Greater Vancouver area that were open six days a week at times convenient for working people, this past tax season. We prepared taxes for low- and moderate-income families, linking them with unrealized benefits such as the GST credit, CCTB and the Canadian Employment Credit.

The cornerstone of this work is our targeted outreach campaign, for which outreach staff and trained community leaders went door-to-door talking with families and asking a series of questions to determine whether families filed taxes, met the criteria for other benefits eligibility, and/or used a commercial tax preparation service or a rapid refund loan, and at what cost.

We are now modeling formal financial literacy and asset development classes on this approach by engaging low income people on the doors and in their neighbourhoods.  We feel this is a groundbreaking approach to building community wealth and economic capacity in Canada's low income neighbourhoods.

Early Living Wage Campaign Win

BC ACORN members are celebrating this week after a vote on New Westminster City Council in support of investigating a Living Wage Bylaw for the municipality.  The vote, held on Nov 30th at New Westminster City Hall, instructs City staff to investigate the costs, benefits and viability of a Living Wage Bylaw by February 2010. 

Led by Councilor Jamie McEvoy, New Westminster has joined the ranks of Canadian municipalities looking at enacting Living Wage Bylaws – and may be even the furthest along.  BC ACORN members along with allies plan on working with City staff to ensure the report they submit back to council appreciates the full benefit of a Living Wage Bylaw.

If New Westminster were to pass a Living Wage Bylaw, it would be the first Canadian municipality to do so after over 100 American municipalities.  ACORN members will be holding events over to coming months in support of the campaign and their vision of a fair and equitable BC for all.

Living Wage Campaign Launch

BC ACORN along with allies from Labour and Community groups will be hosting a campaign launch for the New Westminster Living Wage Campaign.

The campaign aims to win a municipal bylaw in New Westminster that would require that a business receiving tax dollars to pay their employee’s a living wage. Living Wage bylaws are used in over 100 American jurisdictions and aim to end the practice of using tax payer dollars to subsidized poverty wages.

The Campaign launch is happening at New Westminster City Hall (511 Royal Avenue, New Westminster) October the 17th at Noon. We hope we can see you there.

There are currently several Canadian municipalities at different stages of evaluating Living Wage Bylaws for possible implementation. For more info on Living Wage Campaigns check out the Living Wage Resource Centre at: http://www.livingwages.ca.

Action for Ottawa Living Wage Bylaw

We’ve passed the first hurdle towards a living wage bylaw in the City of Ottawa by winning the first vote directing City staff to investigate possible Living Wage options.

Now comes the hard part. Over the coming months City staff will investigate different types of living wage bylaws before presenting proposals to Ottawa City Council for a vote. We need to make sure we have the votes necessary on Council to pass the most progressive of the options that staff will present.

ACORN Members are taking to the streets to lobby their councilors; can you send a quick message in support of their grassroots efforts?

Click to Take Action to Win a Living Wage Bylaw >>

Action for EI Reform

Employment Insurance is a key piece of Canada's social safety net, and an important economic stabilizer.  In past recessions it has prevented deeper, longer recession and reduced the shock of job losses on working families and their communities.

As this economic downturn continues, we have an EI system that is weaker than in previous recessions.  Only 42% of unemployed workers receive EI at any given time – Because fewer workers qualify and benefit weeks are reduced.

Now is the time to expand EI to protect workers, their families and vulnerable communities.

Click to Sign the Petition >>

Fix EI Petition

Employment Insurance is a key piece of Canada's social safety net, and an important economic stabilizer.  In past recessions it has prevented deeper, longer recession and reduced the shock of job losses on working families and their communities.

As this economic downturn continues, we have an EI system that is weaker than in previous recessions.  Only 42% of unemployed workers receive EI at any given time – Because fewer workers qualify and benefit weeks are reduced.

Now is the time to expand EI to protect workers, their families and vulnerable communities.

Click to Sign the Petition >>

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