Tessara Smith, PayScale
Minimum wage workers everywhere are beginning to take a stand for higher wages. Inflation is continuing to skyrocket and the salaries of lower level workers don’t seem to be keeping up with this trend. It is becoming apparent that the annual income of lower level workers is hardly livable not only in the United States, but also in Canada. The salaries of minimum wage employees in Canada are not substantial enough for citizens already struggling to cover the ballooning costs of everything. The longer the gap between inflation and wages goes on, the more citizens are pushing for a pay day. Canadian Labor activists have even gone as far as delivering MPP’s with a block of ice containing $10.25, Ontario’s minimum wage since 2010. The people have made it clear; it is time for sustainable wages to become a reality.
Earlier this past June, Parliament finally cracked under the pressure to raise wages and Ontario took the leap bumping minimum wage from $10.25 per hour to $11.00 per hour. This small increase doesn’t seem momentous in the grand scheme of things, but for some it makes the difference between being able to afford housing or not. Even though the wage bump was considered a major victory for employees and activists however; it was only the beginning resolution to a much larger problem that minimum wage workers have been facing for the last few years. One city in Ontario that particularly is desperately in need of a pay raise is Toronto. Even though the city will reap the benefits of Ontario’s’ new minimum wage, workers are saying this won’t be enough to keep up with the costs of living in an area with such a high price tag. Critics speculate that New Westminster has already raised minimum wage to $15 an hour and yet “world Class” Toronto is still lagging behind this trend.
Financial analysts seem to agree that minimum wage workers aren’t just crying wolf. When economists calculated the cost of living back in 2008, the average member of the working class in Toronto needed to make an average of $16.60 an hour in order to manage their bills and keep up with their rent. Unfortunately, many minimum wage workers in the city are struggling when it comes to just paying off their cellphone bills, let alone covering the costs of rent and home life. Minimum wage activists are pushing for $15 an hour, but politicians won’t budge. The power struggle between workers and MPP’s is creating a huge controversy due to the fact that city officials are in direct control of the zoo, coffee shops, fast food restaurants, etc. In short, city officials could easily require all companies to raise their wages and it would be no skin off their backs. At their core, poverty wages are a municipal issue and it's time for city officials and politicians alike to come to this realization. It’s often easier said than done when it comes to changing minimum wage policy, but in this case citizens are claiming raising minimum wage is easy and it should be done.