|Matthew Samuel Spurrell. (Wiki.)|
by Ian Cooper
One reason there are so many poor children in this country is because low-paid parents have to spend so much of their income on rent and utilities. There is little left for food, clothing and other necessities. Public, geared-to-income housing is non-existent or there are such long waiting lists that people don’t even bother applying.
A third of all Canadians earn less than poverty-level wages. Millions aren’t covered by employment standards, and do not qualify for unemployment benefits.
If wages had kept pace with rising productivity, wages would have been an average of $200.00 a week higher in 2005 and a total of $10,000.00 higher on a yearly basis.
See this document from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives to see the full impact of these programs, for surely all of this is a result of policy.
In 2006, wages increased marginally to 50.6 percent of GDP. This was down from 55.4 per cent in 1992. Yet corporate profits over the same period increased from 4.7 percent of GDP in 1992 up to 13.9 percent of GDP, the highest in history.
The Vanier Institute reports that since 1990, average after-inflation wage increases for the typical Canadian family rose a whopping ten cents. Statistics Canada defines low wages as those paying less than ten dollars an hour. About 1.3 million Canadians held full-time low-wage jobs; women are twice as likely as men to hold these jobs. Many are single moms, surely one of the most maligned groups in history! But just listen to the rhetoric and you’ll see what I mean. I’m not talking on the floor of Parliament either—this nonsense has trickled down to the kitchen table and doughnut shop level of minldess, people-bashing rhetoric.
University of British Columbia economist Robert Evans notes that between 1976 and 1990, the per-capita average income of Canadians was stagnant, but the top 0.01 percent of Canadians saw their incomes nearly double.
The Globe and Mail reports that Canada’s CEO’s saw their pay increase 39 percent in just one year, 2005; while the average Canadian worker got about $38,000 a year, minimum wage workers subsist on less than $16,000, which is below the poverty line.
Multinational corporations have the ability to shift investments around the world. This pressures governments to reverse reforms associated with the social safety net. Trade is international, but unions are nationally based. Business has less need to compromise with government and labour, the power of workers to negotiate fair wages and benefits is eroded.
The issue of economic justice and income distribution is totally off the radar screen, leaving huge numbers living in poverty. The minimum wage has been allowed to fall in after-inflation terms, despite the fact that it plays a key role in social justice and anti-poverty issues. Trust me, Canadian journalists are good enough to know all about this. Why isn't it a bigger issue?
Almost 1.2 million Ontario workers have to live on wages of less than ten dollars per hour. The only countries with lower minimum wages than Canada are Poland, the U.S., the Czech Republic, Japan, and South Korea. There are no provinces in this country where minimum wages even come close to the poverty line.
Among the developed nations, Canada has the second highest percentage of low-paid workers, exceeded only by the U.S.; our minimum wage is lowest of all the OECD countries.
Some reasons for this are the ignorance of the media; who sweep the issue under the rug, the smugness and mealy-mouthed hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie, and the vicious greed of the corporate-sponsored Conservative and Liberal governments of some provinces and this nation.