The Charlatan: Groups rally to raise minimum wage

A rally to raise the minimum wage in Ontario to $14 per hour was held outside MPP Bob Chiarelli’s office Nov. 14.

The campaign to raise minimum wage was led by various community, labour, and student groups across Ontario including ACORN Canada, an independent national organization of low and moderate-income families striving for social and economic justice in the country.

The groups said in a press release that raising minimum wage to the $14-per-hour rate would provide a $5-billion boost to the economy.

Michaela Fitzpatrick, a leader of the South Ottawa chapter of Ottawa ACORN, said the rally was a successful step in the right direction for the movement.

She said it drew a crowd of about 30 people, all voicing their opinion for an increase of the minimum wage.

According to ACORN, people who make minimum wage should not be living below the poverty line. This is stated in a report submitted to a panel reviewing the issue.

“The minimum wage should be at least 10 per cent over the poverty line,” the statement reads.

With that standard, coupled with its belief in the minimum wage being calculated as part of a 35-hour week, ACORN has come to the calculation that $14 per hour is a fair minimum wage, according to its deposition.

ACORN has already met with Ontario’s Minister of Labour Yasir Naqvi, as well as MPPs John Fraser and Madeleine Meilleur.

All government officials have said they are going to wait for a report on the issue to be filed before voicing their opinions, according to Jill O’Reilly, an Ottawa representative for ACORN.

The minimum wage in Ontario has not increased since 2010, currently sitting at $10.25 per hour, according to the Ministry of Labour website.

“I am proud to be part of a government that has raised the minimum wage by 50 per cent since 2003,” Naqvi said.

Naqvi said before the minimum wage can be increased again, he wants to “ensure there is a fair process.”

This process would begin with a panel of academics, representatives for businesses, and a university student bringing forth a report to government by the end of December.

Once the report is delivered, Naqvi has said he is,“committed to reviewing the process in the new year.”

The rally was supported by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)-Ontario.

With a promise by Naqvi to review the issue, the rallies are going to continue in order to gather support for the issue, according to Alastair Woods, chairperson of the CFS-Ontario.

“On the 14th of every month there will continue to be demonstrations in order to raise awareness,” Woods said.

Woods said in a press release that this issue particularly effected students.

“Ontario students are contending with the highest tuition fees in the country, unprecedented levels of student debt and high youth unemployment,” Woods said. “With more and more students and young people working in low-wage jobs during school and after graduation, raising the minimum wage would immediately improve the lives of Ontario students and youth.”



Article by Daniel Heath for The Charlatan