FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2019
Workers in Regina and Saskatoon are holding a street party and protest to demand a $15 minimum wage.
On Monday, April 1, the Fight for $15 Saskatchewan is holding “DEAD LAST,” a street party/protest to ‘celebrate’ the fact that Saskatchewan has the worst minimum wage in the country and call on the Sask Party to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour.
96,000 workers in Saskatchewan – a full fifth of the workforce – earn less than $15/hour. 76 per cent of those earning less than $15/hour are adults. These workers and families are struggling to make ends meet, and since 2008 food bank use in Saskatchewan has grown 77 per cent. The other provinces of Canada are increasing their minimum wages, but Saskatchewan is not. As Nova Scotia raises its minimum wage on April 1, we will be left behind with the worst minimum wage in Canada: $11.06 per hour.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has calculated that in Saskatoon or Regina, a full-time worker would need to earn over $16 per hour to afford the basics like rent, groceries, and childcare.
“That doesn’t even take into account saving for retirement, paying student loans, disability plans, or home ownership,” says Saima Desai, an organizer with the Fight for $15 Saskatchewan. “We desperately need the Sask Party to increase our minimum wage to at least $15 per hour to keep workers out of poverty. Anything less is cruel and cowardly on the part of the Sask Party.”
Between noon and 1 p.m. members of Fight for $15 Saskatchewan and community members will be holding a petition blitz in both Regina and Saskatoon. In Regina, partiers will convene on Scarth Street in front of the Cornwall Mall, and in Saskatoon, the party will be held in front of City Hall.
Volunteers will give out free cake and flyers with information on raising the minimum wage, and will be collecting signatures on a petition calling on the Saskatchewan Party to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr. People will also be able to sign postcards that will be sent to Don Morgan, Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, demanding a $15 minimum wage.
Speakers at the event in Regina will include Avianna Hudym, a low-wage worker; Peter Gilmer from the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry; and Nairn MacKay, a former low-wage worker and organizer with Poverty Free Saskatchewan.
“A living wage matters even more to the majority of low wage workers who are unlikely to be working a traditional 40 hour work week at the same job,” says MacKay, who has worked a number of low wage jobs in Saskatchewan. “In most sectors, workers are required to keep open availability, which means that taking a second job to make ends meet is nearly impossible.”
Fight for $15 Saskatchewan is one chapter in a larger network of worker-led movements across Canada to raise the minimum wage, improve working standards, and increase access to unions.
Saima Desai / 306-999-4443
On April 1, Saskatchewan will become the province with the lowest minimum wage in the country, at just $11.06 an hour. That’s devastatingly, embarrassingly low – you need to earn at least $16/hour to afford the basics and stay out of poverty in Saskatchewan. So we’re hosting a couple events that ‘celebrate’ the dubious honour. The Sask Party is the BEST at being the WORST!
We need folks who will help us with the following:
Check the Fight for $15 SK Facebook page for both events. If you can’t attend the event in person, on April 1 tweet or post to demand that the Sask Party raise Saskatchewan’s minimum wage to $15, using the hashtags #DEADLAST and #FightFor15SK. You can also tweet at Don Morgan (@SaskMLA) and @PremierScottMoe.
Click on the links below for useful materials:
Principles for a decent minimum wage:
Poverty in Saskatchewan
One in ten people living in Saskatchewan lives in poverty – this adds up to a roughly 110, 000 people who struggle each and every day to make ends meet. The Saskatchewan Government has released a Poverty Reduction Strategy, but the strategy does not include an increase to the minimum wage or acknowledge the need for a living wage.
Based on CCPA’s Fight for $15 Min Wage report, 20% (96,000 workers) in Saskatchewan make less than $15/hour.
Child Poverty in Saskatchewan is Staggering
One in four children in Saskatchewan live in poverty. Our child poverty rate has increased over the past 25 years, to the point that it is the second worst in Canada and on the same level with middle-income countries like Romania.
Poverty Does Not Impact People Equally
Saskatchewan has the highest First Nations child poverty rates in all of Canada – an appalling 64% of status First Nations children live in poverty in this province.
People with disabilities, newcomers, single mothers, senior women living alone, and Aboriginal people are more likely to be poor. It is therefore not surprising to find the connection of those who work in low-wage jobs: in Saskatchewan, the majority of people who earn less than $15/hour are women and across Canada, wage gaps are attributed to race, gender, sexual expression, and nationality.
The Minimum Wage Is Not Enough
The Market Basket Measure (MBM) low-income line for a family of four living in Saskatoon is $34,897. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) calculates that a family of four with two children needs an income of about $60,000 – that’s because the MBM does not take into account needs such as childcare, education, and dental care – the kind of things that are accounted for with a living wage.
For a parent working full time at Saskatchewan’s current minimum wage of $10.96/hour, minimum wage pays just over $20,800 per year – that’s roughly $15,000 below the poverty line for a family of four, or $40, 000 below the poverty line in more fair methods of measuring income (such as the living wage method). While the minimum wage has increased annually over the past, these increases are insufficient to keep many families with children out of poverty.
The problem with Saskatchewan’ minimum wage, supposedly meant to reflect the rising cost of living, is that the base wage is not sufficient. In the Minimum Wage Regulations, 2014, it is noted that the base rate of the indexation is $10/hour. It is clear that this base rate did not measure need as so many working people in Saskatchewan continue to live in poverty while working – evidently, Saskatchewan’s indexation calculation is ineffective.
Roughly 31,400 people used a food bank in Saskatchewan as of November, 2016; an increase of 77% since 2008. Food bank use is not just a big city problem: there are 28 food banks in Saskatchewan, most of them located in smaller cities and towns. Peter Gilmer, Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry said that the problem is partly from not having adequate increase to income for low-income people during the boom. 15% of food patrons are employed.
Saskatchewan food bank users:
Poverty Isn’t Cheap
Poverty Costs calculated that, “the cost of poverty in Saskatchewan in 2010 was $3.8 billion in heightened service use and missed opportunities. In that year, Saskatchewan’s gross domestic product was $66 billion. This means that the cost of poverty to our province in 2010 was well over 5% of our GDP.”
Inequality Is Shameful
It is important to understand that the richest 62 people are as wealthy as half of world’s population – 3.6 billion people. In Canada, 86 Canadians have as much as 11.4 million people. It is clear that the 1% aren’t tightening any belts: the average salary of a top 100 CEO is 184 times that of the average Canadian.
So while those earning the minimum wage struggle to make ends meet, the rich keep getting richer.
We Can Win
Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is an effective and important step in addressing poverty and ensuring a better distribution of wealth. Across the U.S. and Canada, workers are coming together to Fight for 15 – and they’re winning – let’s join the fight.