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Minimum wage campaign remains crucial, says Social Justice & Advocacy Committee

In the face of a provincial government decision to raise Ontario’s minimum wage from $10.25 to $11.00 per hour, Anglicans are being asked to sustain a campaign calling for a minimum wage of $14.50 per hour by 2015 to raise low-wage workers out of poverty. A revised motion for parish vestries says:

We recognize that the government of Ontario has raised the minimum wage from $10.25 per hour to $11.00 per hour, but this still leaves full-time workers below the poverty line. Moved that the vestry of ___________ (name of parish) urge the government to raise the provincial minimum wage to $14.50 per hour* by 2015, and thereafter to keep the minimum wage indexed to the rate of inflation.

“We appreciate the fact that the government has taken this initial step,” says Archbishop Colin Johnson. “Any increase to help the poorest-paid workers in Ontario is welcome. However, this increase falls well short of what is needed. It still leaves hard-working Ontarians well below the poverty line. It’s not consistent with a Gospel vision of dignity for all.”

A previous Ontario government made significant advances for working people when, as part of a determined war on poverty, it began increasing minimum wage 2.5 times faster than the rate of inflation. Thus it raised the minimum wage by 50 percent between 2004, when it was $6.85 an hour, and 2010, when it reached $10.25. The $11.00 rate helps workers regain purchasing power lost since 2010, when the minimum wage was frozen at $10.25 per hour. But if the current government had continued to follow the previous formula, it would have raised the rate to $11.65 – almost exactly the $11.50 per hour rate that Anglicans had been proposing as the first phase of an increase to $14.50. The government plans to tie future rate increases only to the rate of inflation, without plans for further increases.

“The urgent need for a liveable minimum wage is now on the public agenda in a way that it hasn’t been for a long time,” notes diocesan Social Justice & Advocacy Consultant Murray MacAdam. “The fact that a 75-cent hourly  increase has been enacted is a sign that when enough people call for positive change, their voices can have an impact. But we can’t abandon low-income workers now. The $11 per hour rate will still leave a minimum-wage worker more than $3,000 below the poverty line. We’ll still be seeing hungry minimum-wage workers in our parishes, and at foodbanks and emergency meal programs. So our campaign is still needed, especially as Ontario prepares to unveil a renewed Poverty Reduction Strategy.”

Many parishes have responded favourably to the request by Archbishop Johnson and the diocese’s Social Justice and Advocacy Committee that vestries present this motion. It has sparked debate and considerable support. Anglican delegations have also been meeting MPPs of all parties in recent months to call for the $14.50 minimum wage, along with other steps to alleviate poverty.

“All faith traditions call on us to care for our neighbour,” says the Rev. Maggie Helwig, chair of the diocese’s Social Justice and Advocacy Committee. “This isn’t meant to be the grudging kind of care which measures out the precise minimum we are obligated to give, but the generous love which wants each individual to be able to live a full, decent and healthy life. Therefore, we urge parishes to present a revised motion calling for the $14.50 minimum wage at their vestry.”

Please inform Mr. MacAdam ( about the date of your vestry and whether you presented the motion, so we can keep track of this effort. A report will be submitted to the government. To learn more, visit the Social Justice and Advocacy webpage,

  *The $14.50 wage would lift a person working 35 hours per week 10 percent above the poverty line (Low Income Measure).