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The campaign for living wages has gathered momentum with bills sponsored by NDP members in both the federal Parliament and the Ontario legislature to increase the minimum wage to $10/hour.

The just-released report on Federal Labour Standards also strongly recommended that the federal minimum wage be reintroduced at a level that would allow full-time workers to live above the poverty line. Federal and provincial politicians claim that we can’t afford it. But as Commissioner Harry Arthurs stated in this report, “This is an issue of fundamental decency that no modern, prosperous country like Canada can ignore.”

The real value of the minimum wage everywhere in Canada is now not just far below the poverty line, but also far below what it was thirty years ago, as the following CUPE Economic Brief shows. And contrary to what some politicians and low wage employers claim, increasing the minimum wage tends to have few negative economic impacts and is often positive. We can afford it and we should do it.