I used to be poor. Not just broke poor. Poor, poor. Ours was a single mother-led household, low income, food bank using, welfare (sorry I meant social assistance) every now and then, poor! So when I heard about the Raise the Minimum Wage campaign, I couldn’t help but join wholeheartedly. In support of the campaign, Access Alliance collected petition signatures and delivered them on November 14 to Laura Albanese’s office. I joined this meeting and made a case for increasing the minimum wage to $14.
I grew up in a single mother led household with one sister and two brothers. We watched as our mother worked two jobs just to try and make ends meet. By age 18, while still in high school, I was working in a factory and making less than $7.50 per hour doing a 3:30 pm to 11:30 pm shift Monday to Friday. My school’s principal was one of those people who understood that it was better for him to let me leave school at 2:45 pm to give me enough time to get to my 3:30 shift rather than be rigid with the time and see me drop out of school altogether.
As I got more involved with the campaign I started to wonder, what could we have done with a little more money? Then I started to think some more, always a dangerous thing, what would someone making $10.25 per hour do with $3.75 cents more? Then I started to map it out.
Most people get paid for working 70 hours bi-weekly. (Ok, I know I’m being naïve, most poor people actually work far more hours!) But assuming a 70 hours bi-weekly paid at $14 per hour, each pay cheque would be approximately $980. Now if you’re earning the current minimum wage of $10. 25, your pay cheque is about $717.50 per pay period; a difference of $265.50. With me so far? That is, $3.75 more per hour would put $265.50 more in your bank every pay period. So what difference could an extra $3.75 have had on our life?
$3.75 more per hour would have allowed my mother to get us a bigger apartment so that 4 kids wouldn’t have to share a single room. That’s more money for those in Property Management!
$3.75 more per hour would have allowed her to buy more nutritious meals. This would have spared her the embarrassment of being a working woman with two jobs still having to use the food bank. That’s more money for Walmart, Food Basics, No Frills and the rest of them.
$3.75 more per hour would have allowed her to buy an extra pair of pants or shoes or shirt for her kids. You don’t know how humiliating it is to have to wear the same dress pants to church every week until you have to. And there you have it, more money being fed back into the economy.
$3.75 would have allowed her to save a little bit. Isn’t that what the Finance Minister has been pushing?
Looks like we all win when working people get paid a decent wage that is above poverty line. It’s not fair to have to work 70 hours and still come up short. It’s even worse to have to work another part time job and still only make the ends touch. An extra $3.75 is only fair. What would you do with an extra $3.75?!