Increasing the province’s minimum wage will always be on RNAO’s radar.
Nurses know that Ontarians need to be earning a living wage in order to stay financially afloat and above the poverty line, which is why the association has always maintained the stance that the minimum wage must keep in line with (if not higher than) the cost of living.
RNAO has assumed this position because nurses are aware of the devastating effects poverty has on patients. In fact, advocating for poverty reduction guides much of the association’s work.
Take this case example, for instance: a single person working full-time at the minimum wage of $10.25 per hour (the rate from 2010 to 2012) makes an annual income (pre-tax) that is $2,242 short of the poverty line.
If that same minimum wage worker is supporting two more people in the family (total household size: three people), that family will fall $14,035 below the poverty line.
These are tough situations many Ontarians must contend with.
Increasing the minimum wage mitigates poverty and its devastating consequences – including a slew of illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and premature death.
In 2011, the association asked that the minimum wage increase in increments of 75 cents each year for four years ($11/hour in 2011, $11.75 in 2012, and so on).
This request was included in briefing notes called Advocating for Vibrant Communities that nurses had in hand at RNAO’s Annual Day at Queen’s Park, an event that offers members an opportunity to visit the Ontario legislature to press political leaders for change.
Calls to increase the minimum wage have also appeared in numerous other strategies organized by the association, including submissions to the premier and open letters to political officials.
These are a handful of ways RNAO is holding politicians’ feet to the fire, and helping to ensure proper and realistic steps are taken to prevent poverty and improve health outcomes.