By Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative
The head of the Chatham-Kent Labour Council says low wages — combined with pandemic related government income supports — are keeping prospective employees out of the workforce.
President Linda Reaume says people can make more money at home collecting CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) than they can toiling in a minimum wage job.
“CERB is more than minimum wage,” Reaume says. “Why would you go out and work in the heat or at a hard manual job?”
“We’ve got to raise the minimum wage to a living wage.”
According to the Retail Council of Canada, Ontario’s current minimum wage rate is $14 per hour. It’s the third highest in Canada behind Nunavut at $16 an hour and Alberta at $15.
According to Reaume, it’s impossible to pay rent and utilities and have money left over to buy food when working for the bare minimum.
“You can’t support yourself and cope with the cost of living,” she stresses. “There’s no money left to eat.
“People can’t afford to feed their families.”
Reaume says low pay rates force people to rely on the generosity of food banks to make up for the shortfall.
Also, she says she’s spoken with farmers who say they can’t get Canadian workers to take on agricultural jobs in the fields or greenhouses.
Aside from a change in government policy to increase the wage, Reaume doesn’t have an answer for the challenges faced by the working poor, aside from urging people to get involved in skilled trades or higher education.
“They should go and take a skilled trades course or apprenticeship,” she adds. “People can make good money and have a good standard of living.”
- The Thameville Herald