Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

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Nurses speak out about minimum wage

Increasing the province’s minimum wage will always be on RNAO’s radar.

Nurses know that people need to earn a living wage in order to stay financially afloat and above the poverty line. That is why the association believes the minimum wage must keep up with 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, for instance: a single person working full-time at the minimum wage of $11 per hour makes an annual income (pre-tax) that is $2,000 short of the poverty line.

Imagine if that same minimum wage worker is supporting two more people in the family (total household size: three people). That family will fall even further below the poverty line.
Increasing the minimum wage mitigates poverty and its devastating consequences – including a number of illnesses such as 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. While modest increases have been made, RNAO will continue to press Premier Kathleen Wynne to act on behalf of the province’s 534,000 minimum wage workers and raise the minimum wage to $14 per hour. RNs know that a higher minimum wage will provide thousands of Ontarians with a pathway out of poverty and into good health.

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.

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