Raise the minimum wage, says HEU president
Fred Muzin, president of the Hospital Employees’ Union, sent a letter today to labour minister Joy MacPhail strongly urging her and the NDP government to follow through on their proposed minimum wage legislation. In doing so, he joins others who support the right of the lowest paid workers in the province to inch a little closer to a family-supporting wage. The NDP government floated the idea of minimum-wage legislation at the close of the last legislative session, and the business community is up in arms, saying it will slow down the economy and create unemployment. But Muzin disputes those contentions. He says in his letter that those workers who are without union representation have little protection other than the easily enforceable and readily understood minimum wage. As a leader of a health care workers’ union, Muzin reminds MacPhail of the social determinants of health. “The poor will require a greater degree of health care services and their ability to contribute to our economy will be compromised,” he says. And, he points out, poverty affects women to a much greater extent than men and they benefit more than any other group from a raise in the minimum wage. “Statistics indicate that after the age of 25, almost three times the number of women than men are paid at minimum wage, usually in service sector jobs,” he wrote. Statistics also show that the popular notion that minimum wage earners are mostly young teenagers who live at home is false. The largest single group are workers over the age 25.