University looks at Fight for 15
author: taylor balfour | news writer
Students hope their wages increase as costs skyrocket / jeremy davis
Students show support for minimum wage increase
Recently, the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan saw a tabling campaign by the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) as they promoted a higher minimum wage in Saskatchewan.
The “Fight for $15”, as it has been called, is looking to raise the minimum wage in Saskatchewan to $15 an hour.
Kent Peterson, Strategic Advisor for the SFL, spoke about the most recent Fight for $15 initiative.
“The Fight for $15 is a campaign that is not just in Saskatchewan and Canada, but across North America. It is about raising minimum wage to $15 an hour, ensuring decent pay and fair work for everyone.”
This isn’t the first time that the Fight for $15 has shown its face on Saskatchewan campuses, Peterson said.
“The Fight for $15 has been active in Saskatchewan for a few years and this year, we are making a renewed effort,” said Peterson. “We have already done a series of things already. Late last year, we had a few community conversations on the Fight for $15, this year we had an organizing meeting in Saskatoon, and this last week we were tabling at the U of R.”
“We are finding lots of momentum and support for raising the minimum wage.”
When asked about events that the group had run previously, Peterson was quick to talk about what was different this year.
“This is the first time we have done this kind of tabling.There had been petitioning campaigns done prior, but this year we directed postcards to the minister directly.”
“When we were tabling, we were on campus for the week, about four hours a day, trying to catch the most students we can during the busiest times at the university.. “We didn’t have to do any hard selling at all. Students walked up of their own accord.”
When asked about the support that they received, Peterson was happy to talk about the positive student reaction.
“Between the two campuses, we got nearly a thousand cards signed. Lots of folks were coming up and eager to sign their support and have conversations with us,” said Peterson.
“Most, if not all, of those students are making minimum wage or under $15. They realize that this is not just a campaign, this is their life and their ability to afford their daily necessities. People see themselves reflected in this campaign.”
Peterson also wanted people to realize the demographics of minimum wage workers.
“I think that it is important to remember who makes minimum wage and under $15 an hour. We know from Statistics Canada, almost 97,000 make less than $15 an hour in Saskatchewan. That’s almost 20 per cent of the workforce. 20 per cent that are making below-poverty wages.”
When asked about how they discuss a $15 minimum wage with people who want more information, Peterson outlined their approaches.
“There are a few ways to frame the argument, the first being a values-based argument. Nobody should have to live in poverty, especially those who are working full-time and still have to go to the food bank. Folks are very receptive to this message, that these people are doing everything right but they still can’t escape poverty.”
Peterson wanted to quash any notions that the only people working for minimum wage were teenagers and people who don’t have bills to pay.
“It’s not just teens that make minimum wage; the second-largest cohort of people is between 35 and 64 years old. That is a massive group of people who are trying to raise families and pay mortgages and it is just not right.”
“The next is an economic argument. We know that if people go from making minimum wage, which by the way, Saskatchewan has the second worst minimum wage in Canada, and go to making $15 an hour, they don’t buy a second yacht or stash it in the Caymans,” said Peterson.
“They inject it back into the local economy, they go out to restaurants, they put their kids into hockey, and local economies benefit.”
Peterson was quick to elaborate the net positive that an increase in minimum wage entails.
“It creates more economic activity and creates jobs, not removes them, as based on data from Ontario and Alberta,”