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Consulting Those Affected

Obvious

It would seem obvious that, for example, when creating a panel meant to consult with the public on the future of minimum wage in Ontario, you would consult with those who are actually making it to receive genuine reccomendations as to how it can be improved. Or so one would think, however it is the unfortunate case that this has not been, and still largely is not, the case in modern policy-making.

Minimum Wage? Not a Hamilton issue

The Minimum Wage Advisory Panel, the panel tasked with deciding on future policy recommendations for minimum wage in all of Ontario, has decided that this list of cities are the ones most vital to consult in such a process.

In reading this, you’ll note that the city of Hamilton, Ontario, the Code Red city, isn’t listed.

That’s right, the city that is home to some of the poorest people in the province of Ontario isn’t going to be consulted in the process of deciding the future of minimum wage. Makes sense as long as you...

Don’t mind that in some of our neighbourhoods over 70% of children live below the poverty line.

This is problematic-- especially in a city that has the official vision of being “the best place in Canada to raise a child”. This statistic is clear in that it speaks to the fact that women are overwhelmingly more likely in contrast to their male counterparts to earn minimum wage, which means the future of minimum wage is going to impact not only these women, but their children should they have them, too.

But it still makes sense as long as you...

Don’t mind the fact that Hamilton is home to many newcomers to Canada

And that wouldn’t even be relevant to this-- If they didn’t make up 1/5th of those who earn minimum wage. Or if it weren’t the fact that racialized workers are nearly 50% more likely to earn minimum wage.

So then, why not include Hamilton?

Well, according to the Ministry of Labour it's simply because they can't make it...

Somehow, I think you can find a way to make an exception for this city in particular, Ministry.

... Below is the transcript of an email I sent the Panel asking them to reconsider their locations.

Hello,

I am writing this piece of correspondence to inquire about the selection process that was used for the Minimum Wage Advisory Panel's Regional Consultation locations, listed here: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/regional.php

You will find that I have CC'd several relevant individuals and organizations as I believe they will find interest in this issue as well and would welcome them to forward their own concerns around this as well.

Specifically, I take note of the fact that Hamilton is not listed as one of the locations that is to be consulted in the process that is to help determine the future of minimum wage in Ontario. I find such a fact to be absolutely appalling and hope that the Minimum Wage Advisory Panel will make — what I can only hope is merely a glaring oversight to exclude Hamilton from this consultation process — an issue that is soon corrected.

Hamilton is this province's fifth largest municipality, and is host to one of the most poverty-wracked communities within Ontario. We are not only home to a shifting economy, but to that of many newcomers to Canada as well— which, according to the Wellesley Institute's report entitled "Who Is Working For Minimum Wage In Ontario?", make up one fifth of those who make minimum wage and that further, racialized workers are nearly 50% more likely to work for minimum wage than non-racialized workers. In addition to this, we're a city whose official vision is "To be the best place to raise a child in all of Canada". Yet in tandem we have the findings of the Code Red study undertaken by our community Newspaper, The Hamilton Spectator, which found several disparities between health and income-levels within our city, such as that in some of Hamilton's neighbourhoods nearly 70 per cent of the children live below the poverty line.

Because of this it goes without saying that not only do we offer a unique perspective to this panel as a city, but further that any decisions that are made about the future of Ontario's minimum wage laws will have a sincere and direct affect upon many members of Hamilton's community.

It would therefore seem that the importance of ensuring that the voices of those who are most likely to be directly affected by any such possible legislative changes to such wages should be consulted if sincere recommendations are being sought by this panel.

Further, I would urge the Minimum Wage Advisory Panel to take into consideration the merits of the valuable input that could be generated by any number of organizations within Hamilton if such a consultation were to be held here, such as the Social Planning and Research Council, the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, the Hamilton Community Foundation, and the renowned Labour Studies program within McMaster University, just to name a few.

Therefore, I urge this panel to reconsider their exclusion of Hamilton in this consultation process and recognize that the proposed alternative means of consultations are not genuinely accessible nor are they as inclusive as genuine physical participation to those who are most affected by them, and finally to recognize the genuine contributions that could be made to this panel by our community should such a consultation be held here.

Kind Regards.

Eric Gillis,
SRA Social Sciences,
McMaster Students Union.

Truly it is sad that this panel, one that will make such a heavy impact on the people who depend on minimum wage every day, is not consulting them. It's not only shameful, it's unacceptable. People deserve better from their government.

Photo credit: My own for once. Shot on Hamilton's King Street.