Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

MAY 1, INTERNATIONAL WORKERS’ DAY

Posted by strattof on May 9, 2014

May 1st is recognized around the world as International Workers’ Day. It commemorates the May 4 1886 killing of four workers in Chicago during the struggle for the eight-hour work day.

Today, May 1st is an occasion for celebrating the gains workers made over the last century. It also provides us with a chance to reflect on the struggles still facing working people in Saskatchewan.

MINIMUM WAGE IN SASKATCHEWAN: SOME FACTS

  • The minimum wage in Saskatchewan is $10 per hour.
  • It is the 7th lowest minimum wage in Canada.
  • On October 1, 2014, the minimum wage in Saskatchewan will rise to $10.20 per hour.
  • The 20¢ increase will give Saskatchewan the 6th lowest minimum wage in Canada.
  • It amounts to a 1% a year increase since the last rise in Saskatchewan’s minimum wage in December 2012.
  • On April 1, 2014, Saskatchewan MLAs got an automatic 1.5% increase in pay.
  • The base pay for MLAs is now $94,668, an increase of $1,399 per year.
  • After the October 1, 2014 increase, a full-time minimum wage worker will earn $21,248.64 a year, an increase of $416 per year.

COULD YOU LIVE ON THE MINIMIM WAGE?

  • Today, a minimum wage worker in Regina earns $20,832.64 a year or $1,736.05 per month.
  • The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in Regina is $875.
  • That’s more than 50% of a full-time minimum wage worker’s salary.
  • Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines “affordable housing” as costing a household 30% or less of before-tax income.
  • The annual inflation rate for Saskatchewan is 2.8%; the minimum wage is set to rise by a mere 1% a year.
  • A measly 20¢ increase in the minimum wage won’t do much to help low-income earners’ frail standard of living.

WHY IS THERE NO MAXIMUM WAGE?

In 2013, the CEO of PotashCorp took home just under $11 million, 528 times what a minimum wage worker earned.

A LIVING WAGE: $16.46 PER HOUR

The $10 per hour Saskatchewan minimum wage is a poverty level wage. By contrast, a Living Wage is sufficient to meet a family’s basic needs and ensure that it does not slip into poverty.

In Regina, an hourly wage of $16.46 is just enough to meet the basic needs of a family of four with both parents working full time.

Here’s a bare bones budget for that family, which includes a boy age seven and a girl age four.

  • Both parents work full time year round.
  • The family rents a three bedroom apartment and has a used car and a Regina Transit pass.
  • The children are in licensed preschool and school age day cares.
  • The parents each take one course per year at SIAST to upgrade their credentials with a view to improving career options.

BARE BONES MONTHLY BUDGET

Shelter $1259

Childcare $950

Food $816

Household $758

Transportation $480

Contingency $192

Clothing $179

Health Care $119

Parents’ Education $100

A Living Wage of $16.46 per hour means a monthly income of $4,853, just enough to meet the above expenses. It leaves little opportunity for saving, although a small contingency ($192 a month) allows meeting unexpected emergencies such as family illness or having to relocate to a different apartment.

THE BENEFITS OF A LIVING WAGE

  • A living wage reduces poverty.
  • A living wage helps close the gap between the wages of men and women.
  • A living wage increases workers’ purchasing power.
  • A living wage reduces employee turnover.

Workers, their families, communities, businesses, and the City of Regina will all benefit from a Living Wage.

LET’S MAKE REGINA A LIVING WAGE CITY!

TAKE ACTION

Read about the Living Wage in the 2014 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives ‒ Saskatchewan report A Living Wage for Regina: www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/living-wage-regina

Find out more about reducing poverty in Saskatchewan:

►Poverty Free Saskatchewan: www.povertyfreesask.ca

►Upstream: www.povertycosts.ca

If you are an employer, make sure all your employees are paid a Living Wage.

Encourage the City of Regina to make sure that all city employees are paid a Living Wage and that all employers contracting with the city pay their employees a Living Wage.

Send this leaflet to your City Councillor and MLA.

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