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Toronto—As the Ontario government is poised to release “its long overdue budget”, Sid Ryan the Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees is calling on the Tories to help the 300,000 lowest paid workers in the province by increasing the minimum wage to a living wage.

There are hundreds of thousands of individuals and working families in Ontario just scraping by and in many cases living below the poverty line. In real value, after inflation, the minimum wage is in fact declining. We have poverty and homelessness in this province like never before.

Instead of something cynical like a $200 tax rebate, this government can do something that will really help the working poor and that’s include a substantial increase in the minimum wage in this budget,” says Ryan.

Studies show that 61 per cent of minimum wage workers are adults and that 64 per cent of them are women.

It’s a misconception to think that it is only teenage workers who get minimum wage. The reality is that these are adult workers who support themselves and in many cases entire families on subsistence wages. Our minimum wage should in fact be a living wage,” says Ryan who points out the there has been no increase in the $6.85/hour minimum wage since 1995 when the Tories became the government.

Ontario is falling behind other economies in boosting the living standards of low-wage workers. The United States increased its minimum wage by $1 to $6.15 US in April 2001. That’s equivalent to $8.97 CDN.

In order for a worker’s annual gross income (working full-year at 40 hours per week) to reach Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut Off line (more commonly known as the poverty line) of $16,640 the minimum wage would need to increase to $8/hour.

Raising the standard of living of our poorest workers is an important part of what this government must do to end poverty,” says Ryan who will be at Queen’s Park on Monday (June 17) afternoon to comment on the provincial budget.

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For more information please contact:
Sid Ryan, President CUPE Ontario
(416) 209-0066
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications
(416) 578-8774