The city of Toronto just released an anti-poverty plan on Tuesday that sets out a number of initiatives to reduce poverty and dismantle unequal access to opportunities and resources. The plan focuses on five major themes including housing, city services, transit, food access, and quality jobs and living wages.
While all of these themes are interconnected and crucial to poverty reduction, some require significant investment in infrastructure or planning. But there is one item we can address immediately that simply requires political will to happen—a living wage.
We did the math and figured out that minimum wage workers in Toronto bring home about $1440/month after taxes. And after basic expenses like rent and transportation were accounted for, these workers were left with about $200 for food for the month. That’s $6.66 every day.
So here’s our challenge to you. See what life is like for a single parent living off of minimum wage in Toronto and try making three meals per day for two people on only $6.66 a day. Try it for a day or a week or longer. You’ll see how much harder it is to eat nutritious foods and how much more time-consuming it is to shop.
And remember, this assumes you’re not paying for childcare. You don’t have TV or internet. No budget for entertainment or simple pleasures like a meal out or a movie. You’re living pay cheque to pay cheque and hope you’re granted welfare.
But you shouldn’t have to go on welfare when you’re working a full-time job. Earning $11.25/hour means Ontario minimum wage earners are still living 16% below the poverty line.
Raising the minimum wage would not only be good for those who earn it, it would be good for the economy as well. And raising Ontario’s minimum wage—or better yet, setting a national standard—to at least $15/hour would help lift low-wage earners 10% above the poverty line.
Let’s help Toronto’s workers earn a living wage. Let’s raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour and increase it annually to keep up with inflation.
Taking the $6.66-a-Day challenge is one small step towards empathy and understanding. And it is only through empathy and understanding that we can motivate ourselves and others to effect change.
Learn what other actions you can take to support the $15 & Fairness campaign here.