Dear Premier Wynne,
Ontario's nurses urge you to increase the minimum wage in the next provincial budget, to $14.00 per hour.
The minimum wage has been frozen, since 2010, at $10.25 per hour. Nurses know this has had a serious, negative impact on minimum wage workers in Ontario. With rising cost of food, rent and electricity, a worker employed full-time on the minimum wage, now has an income that is 19 per cent below the poverty line. It is unacceptable to us that someone working hard at 40 hours a week, on minimum wage, should still be living in poverty in a province as affluent as Ontario. The province’s 534,000 minimum wage workers deserve much better.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) has a long and proud history of supporting increases in the minimum wage as a means of ensuring paid work is a pathway out of poverty. As nurses, we witness in our day-to-day work the indisputable link between poverty and ill-health, and we know that a living wage for minimum wage workers is sound healthy public policy. Indeed, an investment in Ontario’s low wage workers is a positive and strategic investment in the health and well-being for the province as a whole.
Low income has also a huge impact on health outcomes and overall well-being. A study of health outcomes in Hamilton neighbourhoods revealed a 21-year difference in life expectancy
between a high-income and a low-income neighbourhood that were five kilometres apart. This reality cannot be ignored as it comes at a high cost to Ontarians in the form of increased health problems, more emergency room visits, as well as higher hospital admission and re-admission rates.
Premier, the next provincial budget must include an increase in the minimum wage. We join the broad-based community movement, which is calling on you to raise the minimum wage to
$14.00 per hour and index it to the rate of inflation. It’s time for our government to make a real difference in the lives of minimum wage workers.
Doris Grinspun, RN, MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), O.ONT.
Chief Executive Officer, RNAO
Rhonda Seidman-Carlson, RN, MN
cc. Hon. Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance
Hon. Deb Matthews, Minister of Health & Long-Term Care
Hon. Ted McMeekin, Minister of Community & Social Services
Tim Hudak, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party
Andrea Horwath, Leader of the New Democratic Party