25 in 5 on the Minimum Wage

In this eBulletin:

  1. Quotes of the Day: TCHC
  2. 25 in 5 on the Minimum Wage
  3. Hunger Crisis: Report of the Hunger Inquiry
  4. Take a Stand Against Wage Theft
  5. Judging the Poor: Canadians’ Attitudes
  6. Upcoming Events Around the Province: 
  • Hunger Situation Critical: Put Food in the Budget!
  • A Community Forum on Poverty – It’s Time for the Federal Government to Do Its Part
  • Canada’s Colour Coded Labour Market

 


Quote of the Day: On the Toronto Community Housing Corporation

“Poverty works very effectively to camouflage a person’s worth and ability, especially when there is no real effort to bridge the gap, to sit down and listen to the individual, really listen with an open mind and open heart. Instead, we have manipulation and tokenism, not hard when people are so hungry and dependent for any recognition, for any position that says, ‘I am better than all the other tenants, the staff like me.’ Shame on those who have allowed this culture of entitlement to take such deep roots, who settled comfortably in offices — bedbug free, I’m sure — and no doubt felt they were acting charitably toward their charges.”

Who said it? Pat Capponi, in an op-ed in the Toronto Star about the betrayal of the public trust at the Toronto Community Housing Commission.

Toronto community housing tenants voiced their concerns Monday over remarks made by Mayor Rob Ford on privatizing social housing in the city. […] Although not condoning the TCHC actions, the tenants say privatization of social housing would be detrimental to them. “We’re not for sale,” said Susan Gapka, a social housing tenant. “Mayor Ford’s comments make us feel like we’re commodities to be bought and sold.”

Who said it? From an article in the Globe and Mail on Monday, March 7 

“After the clamour, one of the tenant reps asked how they might fight privatization. That’s the only question in my mind now. But it is hard for anyone to see clearly when visions for the future of community housing are clouded by blood lust. And at the moment, not many voices are speaking for tenants. But as the meeting ended, something happened that I have never seen before: the building super was called in, and everyone gave him a round of applause for doing such a good job. That’s the future. Do a good job. ”

Who said it? Joe Fiorito, in a column in the Toronto Star about a meeting between a current TCHC board member and current tenants. 


Urgent

Mayor Ford has called an emergency meeting of Toronto City Council for 5:30pm on Wednesday, March 9, to ram through the removal of all remaining TCHC Board Directors and replacing them with one person to rule with complete authority.

Rumour has it there be a motion to amend the Shareholder Agreement to enable heavy handed tactics.

Tenants of TCHC held a press conference yesterday warning of privatization. They are now mobilizing to fill City Council chambers on Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Please do everything you can to spread the word and urge people to go to City Hall for 5:00pm.


25 in 5 on the Minimum Wage 

Premier Dalton McGuinty recently announced that Ontario’s minimum wage will be frozen at the current level of $10.25 an hour. 25 in 5 has been pushing for increases to the minimum wage in order to ensure that a person working full-time, full-year would earn enough income to rise above the poverty line. With more and more people working at low-paid, insecure jobs, poverty proofing the minimum wage is a critical step in reducing poverty in Ontario.

The Network recently sent a letter to the Premier urging him to ensure that increases to the minimum wage continue. Similar letters were also sent to the Minister of Labour (Charles de Sousa), the Minister Responsible for Poverty Reduction (Laurel Broten), and the leaders of the opposition parties, Andrea Horwath (NDP) and Tim Hudak (Progressive Conservative). The letter to the Premier is below. We will distribute responses to these letters as they are received.

Dear Premier McGuinty,

The 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction acknowledges the Ontario government’s leadership in increasing the provincial minimum wage over the past seven years. We welcome the recent announcement of a committee comprised of business and labour representatives which will begin work in fall 2011 to advise on the minimum wage going forward.

The 25in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction believes that an effective poverty reduction strategy must include poverty proofing the minimum wage.  We are concerned that the failure to increase Ontario’s minimum wage this year means a decline in the real earnings of minimum wage workers when the cost of living rose by 2.5% last year. The provincial government risks falling short of the goal to reduce child poverty by 25% by 2013 when it allows the value of the minimum wage to erode. There are approximately 450,000 workers in Ontario who earn minimum wage. They make up 8% of our workforce.

The 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction will continue to call for an $11/hour minimum wage in 2011/2012 with permanent indexation to ensure that full time minimum wage work lifts people out of poverty.  We support taking the minimum wage out of the political arena by indexing it. Ontario’s lowest wage workers should not fall prey to political winds. We know that minimum wage increases make a real difference in people’s lives and that minimum wage workers spend their wages locally, which is good for the economy.

Sincerely,
Jacquie Maund and Mike Creek
25 in 5 Co-Chairs

Other reactions and campaigns:

Workers Action Centre campaign for a fair minimum wage

Read the Ontario Federation of Labour’s reaction to the Premier’s minimum wage freeze here

Read an economic analysis of the importance of minimum wage increases from Progressive Economics here


Hunger Crisis: Report of the Hunger Inquiry

Shocking testimony about hunger in Ontario is contained in the latest report from the Recession Relief Coalition (RRC), entitled Hunger Crisis: Report of the Hunger Inquiry (2011).

Based on the evidence presented at an all-day Hunger Inquiry held on November 23, the report also contains a number of recommendations to help resolve this preventable crisis.

Panelists agreed that the principal way to address hunger in Ontario is to raise incomes, and made a number of recommendations toward this end. The RRC has responded with a focus on social assistance rates, which must be raised immediately to stave off a drastic increase in serious health concerns stemming from widespread hunger and malnourishment among the poorest Ontarians.

Ontarians have just been informed about a new lengthy review of Ontario’s social assistance programs. But the situation is critical for many people and immediate action is required.

The RRC now joins the call for a 55% increase in social assistance rates for singles and for increases in all other social assistance rates to restore the buying power they had before the cuts made by Mike Harris’ provincial Progressive Conservatives in 1995.

Many – including the Liberal and NDP opposition parties – protested bitterly at the time of the 21.6% cuts. Restoring rates has been a widespread goal since then. The increase would cover the past 16 years of inflation, and would raise the income of a single person on welfare, for example, from approximately $600 to $900 per month.

Any less of an increase and a recipient’s ability to eat and pay the rent is severely compromised.

For more information and a copy of the report, go to www.recessionreliefcoalition.org


Take a Stand Against Theft

We work hard, but too often we don’t get paid.   

In December 2010, the Workers’ Action Centre recorded our experiences looking for work.  Go to www.workersactioncentre.org to listen to the reality workers in Ontario face every day.

We are offered work for less than minimum wage, we don’t get overtime pay, we are charged fees to get work, we are told we have to be self-employed to get a job.

This is wage theft!

TAKE ACTION!

We are taking action against wage theft and so can you.

  1. Watch workers’ stories of wage theft and share with others.
  2. Email the Minister of Labour Charles Sousa on our Wage Theft Action page.
  3. Call our workers rights hotline at (416) 531-0778.  Report wage theft.

Judging the poor: Canadians’ Attitudes

Do you think poor people fall into poverty because they’re lazy?

If so, sorry to be the one to inform you, but most Canadians disagree with you. In fact, according to a recent poll, you are among a small minority of Canadians – 23 per cent, to be precise.

But if you – like me – work to keep poverty reduction on the public agenda and you read this story about what the public thinks of poverty, you might be forgiven if you despaired at the thought that Canadians hold harsh judgments against the poor….

In her latest “Framed in Canada” blog post, Trish Hennessy examines a recent poll done by Angus Reid for the Salvation Army’s Dignity Project.

Read Trish Hennessy’s analysis of the Angus Reid poll here.

Links to media stories about the poll can be found in the analysis.


Upcoming Events Around the Province: 
1) Hunger Situation Critical: Put Food in the Budget!

On Thursday thousands of citizens are expected to gather at Queen’s Park in Toronto to stand up for the poorest of the poor.

Join them and Anglican Bishop Linda Nicholls to urge Ontario’s government to include a $100/month Healthy Food Supplement for social assistance recipients in the 2011 Ontario budget.

RALLY at Queen’s Park
10 a.m., Thursday March 10, 2011

Over 80 Anglican parishes representing over 30,000 Anglicans have backed this call, along with people in 30 communities across Ontario. Add your voice! JOIN US!

Supporters plan to show with props what foods people could add to their kitchen tables with the proposed $100 a month. That added benefit would help those in Ontario who are struggling to survive on welfare.

Sponsored by the Anglican Diocese of Toronto and Put Food in the Budget.

See an announcement of the event here 


2) A Community Forum on Poverty – It’s Time for the Federal Government to Do Its Part

Date:                    Thursday, March 17, 2011
Time:                    2:00 – 4:00 pm
Place:                   Town Of Ajax, Council Chambers
Moderated by:   Carol Goar, Toronto Star

A community discussion on how to work in partnership towards reducing poverty in Canada, as recommended in a recent parliamentary committee report and Bill C-545, an Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada.

Speakers include:

  • Mike Creek, Voices from the Street
  • Mark Holland, M. P. (Ajax-Pickering)
  • Candace Hoeppner, M.P. (Portage Lisgar) & chair, HUMA Committee (invited)      
  • Jim Koppens, (NDP candidate, Ajax-Pickering–invited)
  • Rebecca Harrison, (Green Party candidate, Whitby-Oshawa)

We want to hear from people with lived experience of poverty to share your stories and ideas.  

Please RSVP to: Liyu Guo, at liyugu@familyservicetoronto.org or phone 416-595-9230, ext 244.
If you require support to attend (e.g. child minding, public transit tickets, a local ride, or special assistance with communication), contact
Megan Cramer at 905-686-2661 ext. 132 by no later than Monday, Mar. 14.

Jointly organized by Campaign 2000, Make Poverty History, and Community Development Council Durham


3) Canada’s Colour Coded Labour Market

On March 21st, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, please join the Wellesley Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives for the release of Canada’s Colour Coded Labour Market: the gap for racialized workers. This new research by Sheila Block and Grace-Edward Galabuzi analyzes the labour market experience of racialized Canadians.

Where: Oakham house, Ryerson University
Address: 55 Gould Street, Toronto
When: Mar. 21, 2011 at 11:00 am to 1:00 pm

Space is limited.
Please RSVP to march21@wellesleyinstitute.com

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