OTTAWA - Today, NDP MP Peggy Nash (Parkdale High Park) will introduce a bill in the House of Commons that will re-establish a federal minimum wage and set it at $10 an hour.
"Canada is considered a low wage country with high rates of poverty," said Nash, who is the NDP's lead critic for Toronto. "It is time for the federal government to show leadership in the area of income security."
Federal minimum wage was eliminated in 1996 under the Liberal government. At this time, the current provincial or territorial rates were adopted as the federal minimums.
Nash was joined by NDP Labour Critic Libby Davies (Vancouver East) and NDP Social Policy Critic Tony Martin (Sault Ste. Marie) to announce her private member's bill which seeks to amend the Canadian Labour Code.
"The Federal Labour Review Commission has been reviewing the Labour Code and has heard strong recommendations to again establish a federal minimum wage," said Davies, referring to the Arthur's Report which will be released today. "We are here today to call on this Parliament to make fair and equitable labour standards a national priority."
The Canadian Council for Social Development stresses the importance of a federal minimum wage and recommends it be set at $10 an hour. They noted in their recent submission to the review commission that "Canada Labour Code's importance extends far beyond the numbers of workers covered… and can serve as a 'best practice' for labour standards across the country."
"Setting a federal standard of pay means more spending in our communities and benefits everyone," said Martin, who launched a campaign to end poverty in Canada during the spring session of Parliament. "The ten dollar minimum wage including for employees in federal jurisdiction is an important part of our party's comprehensive plan to end poverty in Canada."
Nash says she is hopeful that her bill will find support amongst MPs from all political parties.
"The passage of Bill C-257 shows what we can do when we reach across party lines to accomplish results for working people," she said in reference to a private members bill to ban replacement workers that passed second reading last week with the support of MPs from the NDP, Liberal, Bloc and even Conservative Party's.
Recently, Nash's provincial colleague, Parkdale High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo, introduced Bill 150 at Queen's Park to raise the minimum wage in Ontario to $10 an hour.
"We need to send a message to provincial legislatures, like the one in Ontario," said Nash. "Raise the minimum wage, because in a just society no one working full time for a full year should find themselves in poverty."