A submission to the Minimum Wage Review Committee by

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					A submission
to the
Minimum Wage Review Committee
by the
Campaign 2000 Provincial Working Group

November 2004
Thank you for accepting this submission to the Minimum Wage Review Committee.

Campaign 2000 is a public education movement that uses citizen engagement to ensure
that the Members of Parliament and the general public remember the unanimous all-party
resolution, made on Nov. 24, 1989, to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. The
Campaign 2000 Provincial Working Group is a collection of stakeholders that have come
together to move forward the agenda of this national education movement.
Specifically the three goals of this group is:
        1. to act as a mechanism for public dialogue,
        2. to produce an annual provincial report card on poverty, and
        3. to make the elimination of poverty a community effort by expanding the
            group to include representatives from health, business, and education sectors

A paper recently published by Campaign 2000, entitled Pathways to Progress, looks at
the issue of structural poverty: poverty that exists in Canada despite the improvements in
the overall economy. It then proposes a social investment plan to reduce structural
poverty across the nation. This plan suggests governments should:
    1. increase the availability of good jobs at living wages
    2. create an effective child benefit system
    3. build a universally accessible system of quality Early Child Education and Care
    4. expand affordable housing significantly, and
    5. renew the national safety net: Canada Social Transfer.

It is within this context that this Provincial working group on poverty makes this
submission to the minimum wage review committee.

Every citizen in Newfoundland and Labrador has the right to a basic quality of life, such
a food, clothing, shelter, emotional and physical well being. Unfortunately anyone
working in a minimum wage job is left without adequate means to acquire this standard
of quality of living. Currently Newfoundland and Labrador has one of the highest rates
of poverty in the country and the second lowest minimum wage, only slightly above the
wage set in Alberta, the wealthiest province in the federation.

If this poverty rate is to drop, as noted as a priority in the Throne Speech delivered in
March 2004, raising the minimum wage is an obvious and integral first step in this

In 2001, over 3,700 children or 5.7% were living below the Poverty Line1, as defined by
the Low Income Cut Off (LICO), despite the fact that they grew up in families with two
parents working full-time all year long and the national child benefit supplement. If
families are going to pull themselves out of poverty, they must be first able to cover their
basic necessities.
    Source: CCSD using Statistics Canada’s Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, masterfile

Currently two parents with two children working for minimum wage, at 40 hours per
week, is not earning enough even to bring their family up to even meet the poverty line
(after tax LICO)2. The Provincial Government has the ability to bring the family of four
up to meet the poverty line by legislating a raise in the minimum wage rate. However,
being brought up to meet the low-income cut-off means that these Newfoundlanders and
Labradorians only have enough income to acquire the very basic necessities each month.

Currently a family with two parents working for minimum wage full time, with one boy
who is 12 years old and one girl who is 14 years old,
       receiving             $2155 ($1720 net earnings plus the NCB of $ 435), must spend
                             - $562 on groceries3
                             - $650 on rent for a 3-bedroom apartment, 4
                                - $ 175 on heat and light 5
       leaves this family with $768.00 to spend on medical, dental, and prescription drug
costs plus transportation, telephone, personal hygiene items for the family, school fees
and books and clothing.

This Minimum Wage Review Committee should acknowledge and act on the fact that the
concept of living wages is not only positive for the families but also for the Province as a
whole by offering people enough income to act as an incentive to get back into the
workforce and therefore ease the financial pressures on the Provincial Government’s
social assistance program.

In fact a report, entitled, Income for Living?, released in Spring 2004, from the National
Council on Welfare notes that
           Only when workers had jobs that paid ten dollars an hour were they
           safely over both poverty lines [LICO and Market Basket
           Measure]…. Average paid workers were consistently able to
           support their families well over either poverty line.
The report goes on to say that
           … governments have two mechanisms to ensure workers reach a
           decent living…to ensure wages high enough to support workers,
           and…to provide a combination of services and income support to
           ensure that workers get the goods and services they need…. The
           National Council on Welfare believes that a combination of these
           mechanisms is essential to supporting people to make the transition
           from welfare into the labour market in a truly productive way.

               2   Source: Canadian Council on Social Development, www.ccsd.ca/factsheet/fs_lico03_at.htm
               3   Cost of Eating in Newfoundland and Labrador - 2003, February 2004
               4   Ibid
               5   Ibid
The Campaign 2000 Provincial Working on Poverty encourages the Provincial
Government and the Minimum Wage Review Committee to raise the minimum wage to a
level high enough to make a significant difference in the lives of those who work in these
positions. It is only with a new rate will these Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have a
chance to bring themselves out of poverty.

Submitted by:
Campaign 2000 Provincial Working Group On Poverty

Anne Marie Anonsen, St. John’s Status of Women Council
Glendora Boland, Dieticians of Newfoundland and Labrador
Catherine French, Community Services Council
Lana Payne, FFAW/CAW
Melba Rabinowitz, Community Services Council/Community Food Sharing Association
Penelope Rowe, Community Services Council
Dr. Roy West, Newfoundland and Labrador Public Health Association
Beverly Woodman, Social Work Student

                                                                           November 22, 2004