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Raising the minimum

People living on minimum wage in the city are struggling to make ends meet, says a poverty advocacy group.
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Poverty Free Thunder Bay chairwoman Terri Carter would like to see minimum wage in Ontario raised to $14 per hour. (Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com)

People living on minimum wage in the city are struggling to make ends meet, says a poverty advocacy group.

That includes recent graduates who are unable to find work in their field and senior citizens, said Poverty Free Thunder Bay chairwoman Terri Carter.

"We're saying to the government they need a livable, secure wage to be able to pay their rent and food while they're working on their careers," she said.

Poverty Free Thunder Bay was set up near the food court in Victoriaville Mall Wednesday to ask people living on minimum wage to share their stories so the group could bring personal accounts to the province's minimum wage advisory panel.

The panel will be in Thunder Bay Friday at the Valhalla Inn.

The advocacy group would like to see minimum wage in Ontario go from $10.25 per hour to $14 per hour.

Carter said they'd also like to see minimum wage indexed to inflation so the cost of living doesn't erode the wage.

The current rate was set in 2010 and since then the cost of food has gone up more than six per cent, said Carter.

"They're bringing in the same amount of money but they have less purchasing power for food and housing," she said.

Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce president Charla Robinson agrees that minimum wage should be tied to inflation and there needs to be a system in place that is fair, predictable and transparent.

In the past 10 years, the province's minimum wage has increased by 50 per cent, but it hasn't changed for the last three years.

"That uncertainty isn't good for anybody," said Robinson, who said the chamber will also be participating in the session with the advisory panel on Friday.

The chamber would like to see minimum wage not only connected to the inflation rate, but reviewed every two years.

"This way we would all know this is how the system works," she said. "We would know there's no political interference. There's no sort of uncertainty as to why is it happening this way."

"Businesses can plan their budgets accordingly. Folks who are on minimum wage know exactly where their wage is going to be for the next two years," Robinson added.



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