In British Columbia, where the race for the May 9 provincial election is heating up, the NDP has called for a $15 minimum wage in the province by 2021. This is a good move, and one that progressive people across Canada should get behind.
As the Fight for $15 and Fairness continues this month in cities across Ontario and throughout Canada, I want to share why I am fighting for a $15 minimum wage for all workers in Ontario. In May of last year I found myself in a situation like too many other young people in Canada: recently graduated from university, $30,000 in debt and unable to find employment. After applying for countless jobs I did what many others in a similar situation do: I took any job I could get. At the suggestion of a friend I signed up with a temporary agency and soon I started working at a warehouse in Scarborough.
There are many threads which interweave people working in stores and in factories, near and far. Yet too often we compartmentalize and divide issues, creating silos of concern. People interested in making more ethical consumption choices are forced to pit priorities against each other.
Imagine that Canada is a retail store in which 100 people work. 10 managers make $80,000 per year. One manager of the 10 trumps them all: he gets over $190.000. The other 90 people -- a majority of whom are women -- work as salespeople and cashiers, or in the stock room. 45 of them make less than $30,000 per year. Many make less than $20,000 per year. This is the retail landscape in Canada.