Author Archives: Catherine Gendron

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There are many truths that have been laid bare through the COVID-19 crisis. We have learned that many people can do their work from home. We have learned that jobs, which countless people have belittled and dismissed in the past are, in fact, essential to the functioning of our lives. Perhaps most significant, we have learned that government responds to pressure and will put money on the table when it comes to directing emergency spending. We have yet to find out what the true financial fallout of COVID-19 will be, but if every other crisis is any indication, we do know that the business community is lobbying government hard and that bailout money for businesses is coming, if it hasn’t already arrived.

Workers in low-wage jobs have gotten used to feeling expendable long ago, but in the time of a global pandemic, even more so. From the onset of COVID-19 to the present recovery struggles, workers have clearly been the canary in the mine shaft. The recovery efforts by the government so far appear to be more about profit rather than safety.

Many workers are working and living in fear – the fear of balancing their health with financial necessity. Add to the mix companies that do not offer sick pay and we see workers who are hesitant to report illness because that would mean losing money they may need to pay rent or for their next meal.


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On May 26th, the Prime Minister voiced his support for 10 days of paid sick leave for all workers. While this is clearly a step in the right direction, at the moment it is nothing more than lip service, as no details were given and the announcement was overshadowed by political parties vying for credit.

The premise is simple – unpaid sick time is at all times negligible, but in times of a global pandemic it becomes downright deadly.

While the 10 days paid sick leave proposed by the Prime Minister is a starting point it should be noted that it is nowhere near enough for a worker who may fall ill with COVID-19 or may need to tend to a family member. Until this proposal is realized we are at the mercy of the current system.

Saskatchewan does not mandate paid sick time for workers, however, on March 19th the Saskatchewan government expanded labour laws to include a new public health emergency leave. Applied retroactively to March 6th, this leave is meant to provide job protection in the event a worker must self-isolate or has to care for a family member in similar circumstances.

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Category : For Workers , News , Uncategorized

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The Government of Saskatchewan, in partnership with the Government of Canada, introduced a temporary wage supplement of $400 for each four-week period, up to 16 weeks, for the period from March 15, 2020 to July 4, 2020.  To be eligible, a worker must earn a wage less than $24.00 per hour at an eligible essential care facility, in the four-week period for which the worker has applied for the supplement.

An eligible worker must also have total earnings less than $2,500, including earnings from work outside an eligible essential care facility, in the four-week period for which the worker has applied for the supplement. Aside from confusing people with its numerous, somewhat contradictory criteria, here is why we think this amounts to the Saskatchewan Government saying “We would pay you less if it wasn’t for this darned pandemic”.

This is limited to essential care industries only. This begs the question why? Well if you look at the trends in wages in frontline “essential” customer service, you see a lot of weird pay arrangements like “hazard pay” and “pandemic pay” being thrown around. In many cases, these pay arrangements act to increase starting wage rates above $15.00 per hour.

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Category : For Workers , News , Uncategorized

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In this global pandemic it is now apparent that society functions on the backs of essential workers that have held the frontline while we fight COVID-19. Giving these essential workers a livable wage is not only the right thing to do economically but also the moral thing.

The Fight for 15 campaign is built upon 3 demands that we will examine over the next 3 weeks.

DEMAND #1- Recognizing the value of and risk being taken by low wage frontline service workers, especially those risking their health to take care of ours in areas deemed essential by permanently and immediately increasing Saskatchewan’s minimum wage to $15.15/hr.

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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

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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!


  • What: A petition blitz! We’ll have cake, petition-signing, and flyers.
  • When: April 1, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • Where: Civic Square, in front of City Hall – 222 3rd Ave N, Saskatoon


  • What: A street party! We’ll have cake, music, petition-signing, more postcards, and flyers.
  • When: April 1, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • Where: 1801 Scarth Street, in front of the Globe Theatre

We need folks who will help us with the following:

  • LEVEL 1: Flyering and asking people to sign petitions. We’ll provide the flyers and some talking points – you just have to stop passers-by.
  • LEVEL 2: Folks who can arrive early or stay late and help with set up and tear down. Someone to take photographs of the event for our social media.
  • LEVEL 3: People who want to be media spokespeople at the event (which means talking to any media who show up about what the Fight for $15 is and why raising the minimum wage to $15 is both possible and crucial). This would also ideally (though not necessarily) be someone who is a low-wage worker.


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.

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In support of the Canada-wide Day of Action to Stand With Tim Hortons Workers and the Fight for 15, join Saskatchewan Fight for 15 for petition blitzes in Regina and Saskatoon!
WHEN: Friday, January 19 from 8:30am-10:00am
WHERE: Midtown Plaza – 201 1 Ave S, Saskatoon (outside front doors)
There are three sites/times. Come just for an hour if you like, BUT COME – anything helps Saskatchewan workers get that much closer to a living wage!
– Team 1, outside Cornwall Centre, 9:30am – 11:00am. Meeting outside the BMO at 1800 Scarth Street at 9:30. Find Aina Kagis (306-527-2014) for materials when you arrive.
– Team 2, UofR campus, 9:30am-2pm. Meeting in the Riddell Centre. Find Nick Day (306-526-8708) for materials when you arrive.
– Team 3, outside Cornwall Centre, 5pm-7pm. Meeting outside the BMO at 1800 Scarth Street at 5. Find Nick Day (306-526-8708) for materials when you arrive.
Come petition and leaflet with us!
A quick FYI – When Ontario’s minimum wage increased to $14 on January 1, 2018, Tim Hortons began to cut workers’ paid breaks, reduce access to basic drug and dental benefits, eliminate uniform and drink allowances, and even cut employees’ hours of work.
This is outrageous coming from a wildly profitable multinational corporation.
• In 2016, Tim Hortons generated US $3 billion in revenue for its parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI).
• That same year RBI CEO Daniel Schwartz pocketed $6,640,150 in salary, stock options and other perks.
• An additional US $350 million in profits were given out to shareholders.
This is not right, and it’s downright greedy. It’s time to take action. Join us and fight for 15!

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Principles for a decent minimum wage:

  • No worker should live on poverty wages.
  • Minimum wage earners should earn wages that are at least 10% above the poverty line
  • The minimum wage should increase each year to keep pace with rising prices.
  • All workers need a $15 minimum wage now!

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.

Clear Examples:

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:

  • 45% are children under 18 – the highest percentage in Canada
  • 18% have wages as their main source of income – a glimpse into the fact that many users are the working poor. This figure does not include the many food bank users who have some employment income but who depend mainly on social assistance, pensions, or student assistance.

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.

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