Ontario should boost minimum wage to $10 (Guest commentary)

It’s not only the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense
By Cheri DiNovo
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/05/2007

Just before Christmas, Ontario MPPs quickly passed legislation to raise their own wages 25 per cent. A day or so into the New Year, Canada’s top CEOs had already made more than the average Canadian. Both news items were met with a certain chagrin, but have since passed from the collective consciousness.

Meanwhile, The Living Wage Bill, Bill 150, which asks that Ontario’s poorest workers be paid a minimum wage that will allow them to pay their rent and feed their children — $10 an hour — is struggling to find its way into committee due to the government’s lack of support. The bill has passed second reading and has garnered vast support from organizations and individuals. But a concerted and powerful few in the government continue to oppose it.

Campaign 2000, the campaign to end child poverty, was endorsed by all major political parties federally in 1989 and has proved a dismal failure. One in six children in Ontario live in poverty. Contrast that to Ireland where the child poverty rate is less than two per cent. Children here comprise 40 per cent of food bank users, many of whose parents work full time. We have become inured to the sight of food banks, breakfast programs for children and homeless people sleeping over grates in our cities. I remember a conversation with my father as a teenager about the 1930s when he described soup kitchens and homelessness and I said, “That could never happen again, Dad.” Little did I know.