Should minimum wage be bumped up to $15 in Toronto?

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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.

5 Comments

  1. 5 Mel 15 Jul

    I agree with Mr. Pope's comments (minimum wage is a starting point for new workers).  Also seems that some demand more without doing more (or doing with less as the case may be). This article states minimum wage workers are struggling to pay off their cell phone bills let alone cover the cost of rent.  I question the priorities of an individual who maintains a cell phone when they can't afford rent.

    Increasing minimum wage is not some kind of magic bullet solution.  Of more concern is the ever-increasing gap between top-paid senior management whose total compensation (wages and bonuses) has become completely out of scale with the average worker.  I like the policy that some companies have which prevents their top-paid executives from earning more than a specified multiple of their lowest-paid employee. 

     

      

     

     

  2. 4 Marc 11 Jul

    There's a fundamental difference between small employers who can't afford to pay more, and large corporations or ultra-rich entrepreneurs who can.  I think raising minimum wages are important in allowing the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in society to improve their position (who can afford today's education to advance themself based on today's minimum wage for example).  However, it might be mroe helpful to legislate or consider incentives/penalties to ENCOURAGE employers to pay more, such as tying minimum and/or average wages to those of senior leaders.

    I'm of the opinion that history teaches us about what happens when a small group controls all the wealth in a society, and we need to take steps to correct some of these issues.  Economic indicators show ever-improving economic signals and companies increasing profits once again, yet employment numbers remain relatively flat and average incomes also remain flat.  Only a small group of people are benefiting, mainly via investment income and entrepreneurial ventures. 

    That said,  re-investing in lower income levels encourages spendingand strengthens the economic base of a nation and the consumer base for companies.  Raising minimum wage drastically is on its own too simple a solution for such a complex problem, but the self-destructive wealth imbalance driving the minimum wage argument has to be addressed.

  3. 3 Sarah 09 Jul

    The problem is not the minimum wage - it's the cost of living.  Bumping up the minimum wage will make those who employ the minimum wage earners have to bump up their prices which means a higher cost of living which means more demand in a minimum wage increase.  The only thing that's happening that those who are in the middle or middle-lower class will see an increase in their cost of living, but not as much in their wages.  Put the focus in making the cost of living reasonable.

  4. 2 Bud Pope 09 Jul
    This is an observation of some of the situations and comments in today’s world. There have been a lot of posts on wages and job action over the last while and I have read them and feel a need to voice my opinion. 
    You are all entitled to your opinion and feel free to post it so now I will post mine. 
    Minimum wage is a starting point for new workers in the work force. Anyone that can’t advance past the starting point in their job is doing something wrong. Choose another line of work that you will enjoy and excel in if you want to earn more money. Raising the minimum wage is not the answer to a better quality of life as it will just drive up prices an equal amount. Raising your value as an employee is the answer to earning more.
    The second part of my comment involves Government workers. All of these employees are paid through tax dollars and should be on a yearly increase that is equal to the cost of living index unless they advance into a higher paying position. This would include teachers, hospital workers, politicians and all others that are paid out of tax dollars. While all of these people are valuable to the community, the wages are there to look at and for you to decide if this is the job that will be suited to your lifestyle. If it is not then choose another field to go into, don’t try to change the system you thought was a good choice. 
    If you work hard and do a good job and live within your means you will almost always be successful and enjoy a happy life. If you rely on others to make your life better, then you will always want for more and be unhappy. Be thankful for what you have and work harder for more if that is what desire. 
    If you want something you have never had, then you must do something that you have never done.
  5. 1 Jean-Philippe 09 Jul
    And the next thing to know is that your BigMac combo will cost 15$...Inflation will go up!

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