Turn minimum wages into living wages and index to inflation

May 6, 2022

Bruske: StatCan numbers show markets aren’t delivering fair wages – governments must take action

OTTAWA – With the cost of living still rising while wages lag far behind, today’s Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey shows that low unemployment numbers don’t mean workers are seeing positive changes to their paycheques.

According to Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress, there are concrete things governments can do to help.

“Workers are falling behind, especially those in low wage and precarious jobs. What modest wage gains we have seen came largely from increases to minimum wages,” said Bruske. “The reality is, we can’t rely on a tight labour market to give workers fair pay or better working conditions. We need governments to step in and raise minimum wages to a living wage – and then index them to inflation.”

Bruske said that workers across the country are facing very different realities as some provinces have maintained a low minimum wage and others have refused to index wages to the cost of living.

“While the federal minimum wage and the one in B.C. are being raised and indexed, we see some Conservative premiers –in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick – with woefully inadequate minimum wages,” concluded Bruske. “With an average family of four’s food bill predicted to be over $280 a week in 2022, Premiers Moe, Stefanson and Higgs should be ashamed of themselves. Each province has set their minimum wage below $13.00 an hour in 2022. A minimum wage worker would need three full days of work just to pay their family’s weekly grocery bill.”

Bruske added that without government intervention and increased unionization, the strong recovery Canada is experiencing won’t translate into wages keeping pace or improved protections for precarious workers.

“For decades we have seen governments and businesses rigging the system against workers, pushing down wages and making it harder for workers to organize,” said Bruske. “We need strong, progressive public policies that provide workers a real path to unionization – and the ability to bargain fair wages, real benefits and better working conditions.”

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