Members of the Sudbury Coalition Agaisnt Poverty visiting the office of MPP Rick Bartolucci. (Photo by Larson Heinonen)
Ontario’s hourly minimum wage was started in 1965 at $1.00. If it had kept up as a percentage of the GDP per capita that it was then, today it would be at $18.93. Instead it is $10.25, an amount that leaves way too many people living below the poverty line. It has been frozen at this point for three years now and organizations across the province are saying that it is time to melt the freeze.
A province-wide campaign
to raise the minimum wage has been launched with its opening action being the delivery of blocks of ice with $10.25 frozen inside to the offices of MPPs on March 21 and 22nd.
On Fridays Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas’ office is open ‘by appointment only’, so the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP) booked an appointment and were invited to sit down and discuss this with her personally. Although Gelinas acknowledged the current NDP platform which includes unfreezing and raising the minimum wage, at present they are not committed to raising it to $14 a hour and she had not heard of it being raised to be 10% above the the poverty line before. She did personally state that she supported raising the minimum wage to $14 a hour. We left feeling we had a useful and supportive discussion with this MPP.
We then went to Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci’s office where we had a very different reception. Bartolucci was not available to meet with us and we spoke only to an assistant who accepted the block of ice. She expressed concern about whether three of the S-CAP members who participated were breaking a trespassing order in being in the office. Three of the S-CAP 11, who were charged with ‘trespassing’ for converting Bartolucci’s office into an emergency homeless shelter last fall to dramatize what his government’s cuts were leading to for people on social assistance but no conditions were ever imposed on them and they have exactly the same right as other constituents do to visit their MPPs office.
The campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage draws together support from a wide variety of organizations. It includes Freedom 90, the Mennonite New Life Centre, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), Parkdale Community Legal Services, Put Food in the Budget, Social Planning Toronto, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council and Toronto Workers’ Action Centre, the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP), Sudbury Worker’s Education and Advocacy Centre, and the Sudbury and District Labour Council.
This important province-wide campaign will continue and in Sudbury S-CAP will continue to actively support it. For more information contact S-CAP.