By TOM GODFREY
An email and holiday card campaign has been launched to send Seasons Greetings to Premier Kathleen Wynne while wishing that she raise the minimum wage of Ontario workers.
Members of the Campaign to Raise Minimum Wage said Ontario’s minimum wage has been frozen for more than three years and are lobbying for it to be increased from $10.25 hourly to $14.
The group has launched a Twitter and email campaign on their website in which supporters can send a holiday message to the Premier. They are also collecting holiday cards from across the province to send to her.
Campaign spokeswoman Sonia Singh said the minimum wage is pushing close to 20 per cent of workers in this province below the poverty line.
She said a government-appointed Minimum Wage Advisory Panel, formed to study the issue, is expected to make its recommendations early next year.
“People are falling behind,” Singh told Share. “The price of food has gone sky high and people cannot afford basic goods.”
She said Toronto is one of the most expensive cities in Canada in which to live and people are having a hard time making ends meet.
Singh said raising the minimum wage will benefit 1.4 million people, almost 60 per cent of whom are at least 25 years old.
“Women, newcomers and racialized workers face systemic discrimination in the labour market,” she said. “They are over-represented among minimum wage earners.”
An increase would stimulate Ontario’s economy by putting more than $5-billion additional dollars in workers’ pockets, the group said on its web site.
“This increased spending generates additional economic activity. More goods and services need to be provided to meet the new demand, creating an effect that cascades throughout the economy.”
Motilall Sarjoo, president of the Brampton, Mississauga and District Labour Council, said everyone benefits when communities thrive.
“We want to see prosperity for our local communities and a $14 minimum wage will help our communities thrive and prosper,” Sarjoo said in a release.
Tara Kainer of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul in Kingston said Wynne and her MPPs have the power to increase the minimum wage if there is political will.
Almost 57 per cent of minimum wage earners are women and 35 per cent are racialized, according to a Wellesley Institute study, which also states the amount of racialized employees earning minimum wage is 47per cent higher than that of the total population.