TORONTO, Ont. – A mock $10 bill — frozen in a block of ice — was presented to a representative of Ontario’s Ministry of Labour on Thursday afternoon in protest of the government’s minimum wage freeze.
The protest was organized by The Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage, a coalition of several advocacy groups in Ontario.
Members of the group include Ontario ACORN, Worker’s Action Centre, and Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.
Protesters gathered outside the ministry’s Toronto office to urge the it to unfreeze the current $10.25 wage an hour and raise it to $14.
The group says this would raise the full-time, minimum-wage annual income to 10 per cent above the poverty line.
Minimum wage in Ontario has been frozen for the past three years.
“This issue resonates everywhere we go. You cannot survive on $10.25 when all the other costs of living have been going up. The minimum wage needs to also go up,” said Sonia Singh of the Worker’s Action Centre.
Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi says the government is committed to building a stronger economy and fair society for all Ontario residents.
“We recognize that there is more to do and look forward to positive discussions with business, labour and community groups on developing an appropriate mechanism for determining the minimum wage in the future,” Naqvi said in a statement.
According to Statistics Canada, more than 800,000 Canadians were working at or below minimum wage in 2009.
At $10.25, Ontario and British Columbia currently have the highest minimum wage in Canada.
Nicole Mason of Ontario ACORN, an advocacy group for low-income families, said that isn’t enough.
As a single mother, Mason said she works multiple jobs at minimum wage in order to provide for her two children.
“There’s less time being spent at home, children are being raised almost by the community. I’m not raising my kids,” she said.
Similar protests are planned for Friday in 13 cities, including Ottawa, Windsor and London.