Last year, Justin Trudeau promised “a federal minimum wage of at least $15 per hour, starting in 2020 and rising with inflation, with provisions to ensure that where provincial or territorial minimum wages are higher, that wage will prevail.”
The year-end is quickly approaching, and yet there has been no movement to honour this commitment.
Currently, the Canada Labour Code guarantees those working in federally regulated industries (such as airlines, shipping, railways, telecommunications, broadcasting, and banking) the same minimum wage set out by the province in which they are employed. In Nova Scotia, this is only $12.55 per hour.
Craig Moss, an airport worker earning $13.40 per hour, believes the federal government ought to keep their word. “We were told we would get a $15.00 minimum wage and they need to follow through,” says Moss. “There are many people out here earning less than that who are really struggling. We need to make this happen.”
On December 6th, Halifax’s Fight for Fifteen and Fairness campaign hosted a phone zap. Several calls were made to the Prime Minister, the Labour Minister, and Members of Parliament urging them all to take action. The Fight for Fifteen and Fairness campaign and the Halifax-WAC calls on everyone who is concerned with this issue to continue this outreach effort.
“We know that many workers in federally-regulated industries are currently paid wages so low that they cannot afford the basic necessities of life, like rent, utilities, and groceries,” says Katrin MacPhee, a member of both organizations. “A $15 minimum wage is a step towards these workers attaining the dignity and financial security we all deserve.”
A federal guarantee of $15 dollars per hour will have a broader and positive social impact, as well. “This could put pressure on provincial jurisdictions to raise their minimum wages to at least $15/hour,” says MacPhee. “As workers in more jurisdictions across Canada enjoy a $15/minimum wage, the less acceptable it will be for provinces like Nova Scotia to set the minimum wage at less than $15.”
The Halifax Workers’ Action Centre is calling on the Liberal government to deliver on their promise.
The Halifax-WAC is a not-for-profit committed to improving the lives and working conditions of low-waged and marginalized workers. It provides systemic advocacy through campaigns like the Fight for 15 and Fairness and one-on-one support for workers facing difficulty in their individual employment relationships.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Lisa Cameron for the Halifax-WAC at 613-329-7148.