N.S. election: Low wages, worker’s rights become big issues as cost of living spikes

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As the outgo of surviving continues to rise, low-wage earners successful Nova Scotia are wondering what the adjacent provincial authorities volition bash to assistance them survive.

A café worker successful the Halifax area, whom Global News has agreed to support anonymous to debar compromising his employment, makes $13 an hour, which is 5 cents supra the province’s minimum wage.

The worker, who identifies arsenic queer, transgender and disabled, said he’s fortunate to person a spouse who makes much wealth than him and a supportive household network.

“I consciousness similar if I didn’t person those supports, I astir apt would not beryllium peculiarly comfortable, but I’m fortunate to beryllium successful the concern that I am,” helium said, noting that galore radical successful the LGBTQ2 assemblage bash not person the benignant of household enactment that helium does.

“I’m presently comfortable, but I could easy not beryllium if thing were to hap successful my surviving situation.”

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According to Hailie Tattrie, an organizer with Fight for $15 and Fairness Halifax, these precarious environments are communal among radical who marque little than a surviving wage successful Nova Scotia, which the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives estimates to scope betwixt $16.18 and $21.80 an hour.

Tattrie says she’s fortunate to beryllium making supra minimum wage, but done her work, she’s spoken to radical warring to marque ends conscionable connected little $12.95 an hour.

“So galore radical I cognize — radical my ain age, radical who are older — person moved backmost location during the pandemic. The minimum wage wasn’t precocious capable earlier COVID-19, and it definite arsenic heck isn’t precocious capable now,” she said.

“People are truly struggling.”

 'Activists accidental    minimum wage   inactive  excessively  debased  successful  New Brunswick and Nova Scotia' 1:46 Activists accidental minimum wage inactive excessively debased successful New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

Activists accidental minimum wage inactive excessively debased successful New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – Apr 1, 2021

Another portion of the contented is the precarious quality of minimum wage jobs: paid sick days are fewer and acold between; galore don’t supply full-time hours — truthful the leader tin debar giving workers benefits; and schedules are often inconsistent, which tin marque getting a 2nd occupation difficult.

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The thought of pulling oneself up by their bootstraps and moving hard to get amended opportunities is getting further and further distant from reality, Tattrie said.

“It’s not arsenic elemental as, ‘Go get a amended job,’” she said, noting that the acquisition required to beforehand one’s credentials is retired of scope for galore people.

“Education is truthful expensive. Ridiculously so. It takes a batch of time, it takes a batch of money. A batch of folks aren’t privileged capable to beryllium capable to spell get much schooling.

“And frankly, whether you are a neuroscientist oregon you’re getting maine my java astatine a drive-thru window, you merit a surviving wage.”

Even with amended credentials, earning a higher wage isn’t a guarantee. The café idiosyncratic who spoke with Global News graduated with a bachelor’s grade successful January of past twelvemonth and hasn’t been capable to find a well-paying occupation — and he’s adjacent seen jobs requiring a grade that wage astir the aforesaid arsenic what helium makes now.

“I’m not utilizing my grade and I person to thrust 3 communities distant for my occupation … and I’m inactive making $13 an hour,” helium said.

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“It’s benignant of ridiculous conscionable however hard it is to find employment, and erstwhile you can, whether oregon not you’re utilizing your degree, you’re inactive making fundamentally minimum wage.”

An predetermination issue

Ahead of the 41st Nova Scotia election, Tattrie is encouraging voters to deliberation astir the issues that substance to them and probe which party’s level aligns with their views.

“If these are issues that substance to you, which I bash judge they substance to galore Nova Scotians, myself included, you request to instrumentality that into relationship erstwhile you spell to the polling stations connected Aug. 17,” said Tattrie.

So far, Nova Scotia’s New Democratic Party has been campaigning connected societal issues similar a $15 minimum wage, 10 paid sick days and imperishable rent control.

The Progressive Conservatives, meanwhile, person focused astir of their run connected improving entree to wellness and intelligence wellness care, portion the Liberals person not yet released a level but person promised spending connected kid care, infrastructure and cleanable technology.

 'Nova Scotia lodging  prices an predetermination  issue' 2:17 Nova Scotia lodging prices an predetermination issue

Nova Scotia lodging prices an predetermination issue

According to Lars Osberg, an economics prof astatine Dalhousie University and a probe subordinate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, it’s been hard to nail down 1 dominating contented during this election.

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“The Liberals intelligibly privation to get re-elected, and they’re having (the election) successful the summertime erstwhile radical aren’t paying a batch of attention, and it’s a precise abbreviated campaign,” helium said.

“So determination hasn’t truly been a defining argumentation contented emerge, astatine slightest to my perception.”

Essential nary more

While astir of our lives person been consumed implicit the past twelvemonth and a fractional by the COVID-19 pandemic, much radical are vaccinated present and there’s anticipation of a instrumentality to near-normalcy successful the future.

But with the pandemic itself successful the rearview mirror, galore of the pre-existing issues exacerbated by COVID-19, specified arsenic out-of-control lodging prices, remain.

“And those problems are going to travel backmost connected the docket with a vengeance successful the adjacent mates of years,” Osberg said.

Essential workers erstwhile hailed arsenic ‘heroes’ are inactive making beneath what’s considered a surviving wage. Getty Images

Essential, low-wage workers, successful particular, who were erstwhile hailed arsenic “heroes” and told flowery platitudes similar “we’re each successful this together,” are present being near successful the dust, helium said.

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Some market stores brought successful a alleged “hero pay” wage bump successful the aboriginal days of the pandemic, which they discontinued lone a mates of months later, adjacent though COVID-19 cases continued to emergence and hopes of a vaccine were inactive acold off.

“Those low-wage workers aren’t immoderate little indispensable present than they were backmost a twelvemonth ago, erstwhile we were successful the archetypal lockdown phase, but they’re not getting paid to the aforesaid rate, and they inactive look the occupation of however they bargain their ain groceries, however they wage their ain rent,” Osberg said.

While immoderate critics accidental a higher minimum wage would pb to layoffs and much unemployment, Osberg said astir probe suggests that’s not the case.

According to a report helium wrote successful April, research shows determination is nary wide denotation that determination are higher unemployment rates successful places with higher minimum wages.

He added that a higher minimum wage would lone person a “really tiny impact” connected the wide outgo of living, which has already been rising careless of wages.

Tattrie agreed.

“I perceive a batch of folks argue, ‘There’s nary constituent successful raising the minimum wage due to the fact that the outgo of surviving volition conscionable spell up,’” she said.

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“Well, I hatred to interruption it to folks, but the outgo of surviving has been going up exponentially for years. The minimum wage conscionable hasn’t been matching it.”

The state is presently reviewing its attack to minimum wage, with a study expected by the extremity of the calendar year.

© 2021 Global News, a part of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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