What’s a living wage?
Ontario Coalition for Social Justice/CALM
Everyone deserves an
adequate standard of living—but one in four Ontario workers earns
The current minimum
wage in Ontario is a poverty wage. A full-time worker, working a
regular 35-hour week, needs to earn $10 an hour to be above the
The minimum wage has
been frozen in Ontario since 1995. The cost of living, including
rent and public transportation, has increased, but the minimum
wage has been frozen at $6.85 an hour.
Studies show that
increases to the minimum wage do not cause job loss. In some
instances, jobs are created when the minimum wage is increased.
“low-skilled” jobs are vital to the economy. In 2000, jobs in the
retail, food and accommodation industries made up 18 per cent of
all jobs in Ontario. In 2000, 24 per cent of women earning poverty
wages worked in retail and 17 per cent worked in food and
accommodation. For men, 29 per cent worked in retail and 20 per
cent worked in food and accommodation.
cited for repressing unions
repression is on the rise around the world and Canada is no
exception. So says a report released by the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), which represents over
158 million workers in 150 countries including Canada.
According to the
report, in 2002, 30,000 trade union activists around the world
were fired for exercising basic worker rights. Some 20,000 were
harassed, more than 2,500 were detained, 89 were imprisoned and
213 were murdered—206 in Latin America alone.
The report also
notes how Canadian provinces are increasingly passing legislation
that deprives large numbers of working people of their rights.
“This isn’t the
first time Canada has been embarrassed by the actions of rogue
provincial governments. It should come as no coincidence that the
provincial governments most cited for the growing violation of
worker rights are those controlled by parties that champion the
current distorted free-market model of globalization,” says Ken
Georgetti, CLC president.
In recent years,
provinces controlled by right-wing governments have passed laws
that deliberately deny labour rights to agricultural workers,
strip workers of the right to strike, and guarantee workers a
right to information about how to leave a union, but not
information about how to join a union. At the same time, these
governments have moved to increase the number of hours employers
can force people to work, watered down health and safety rules,
and lowered the employment age for children.
Regulate in the public
movement says it is time for the federal government to re-examine
its approach to public health and safety.
president of the Canadian Labour Congress, urged the federal
Minister of Health to re-establish precaution as the guiding
principle for public health protection and to abandon its shift
toward policies and practices that manage around so-called
“acceptable” risks—risks that are often determined, measured and
reported by industry.
“Surely the time has
come to re-examine your government’s use of risk management. The
economic fall-out from this spring’s outbreaks of SARS and BSE
demonstrate that some risks are not worth taking at all. This is
especially true for workers whose jobs have vanished in meat
packing plants, in the hotel and tourism sector, or whose lives
have been put in danger because they work at certain health care
facilities in Toronto. They are dealing with the consequences of
an allegedly manageable risk for which they were in no way
responsible,” says Georgetti in his letter to the minister.
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Not getting their
Researchers at the
John Hopkins School of Public Health have found that Americans
receive lower levels of health care service than most other
developed countries, despite the fact that health care costs in
the U.S. lead the world.
The study found that
patients in the U.S. spend less time with doctors and in hospitals
than in other countries. U.S. health care costs averaged $4,631
U.S. per person in 2000—44 per cent higher than Swiss residents,
the second biggest spenders on health care.
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© 2003, LL1922 International
Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers.