|Then I tweeted the picture with this caption,|
"How meta is this? My pic with Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszyk
with PIA's 'Lukaszuk Bucks' at our Spectrum booth."
Even though I had a horrific cold last weekend, I spent 6 hours on Saturday at the Public Interest Alberta/Friends of Medicare booth at Spectrum. (Don't worry, I didn't breathe on anyone or shake any hands.) My shift was drawing to a close when who should I see walking by, but Thomas Lukaszuk, Deputy Premier. He looked over, recognized the PIA sign and came over to talk. Then he noticed the "Lukaszuk Bucks" that PIA had printed as promotion of our Living Wage campaign. The bucks have his picture on them, as he was the minister in charge of minimum wage (minister of employment and immigration) when they were printed. He asked if he could take a few and then asked to have his picture with me holding the bucks.
Here are pictures of both sides of the bucks:
Coincidentally, the provincial government announced on May 31 that they will be increasing the minimum wage to $9.75/hr on September 1st.
Here was the Public Interest Alberta Media Release from May 31 regarding the minimum wage increase:
"The Alberta Government announced today that the minimum wage will increase on September 1st by only 3.5%, to $9.75/hour. Alberta will have the second lowest minimum wage in Canada, higher only than Saskatchewan’s $9.50/ hour.
Public Interest Alberta will be soon releasing new data from Statistics Canada on low-wages throughout Alberta. This data reveals that had Alberta set the minimum wage at $10/ hour like four other provinces, this would have affected 107,900 Albertans who are earning less than $10/ hour.
Premier Redford promised on November 4th, 2011 to revisit the minimum wage policy stating that 'We are probably going to see some sort of settling in the middle. I don’t think we will ever be the highest, but it is not right we’re the lowest, so we’ll be looking at that.'
'The government’s announcement that came out in a press release this afternoon does nothing to address Alberta’s terrible minimum wage policy that leaves so many people living in poverty' says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta, a provincial advocacy organization that has been calling for a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy for years.
The 2011 report on child poverty in Alberta, In this Together, shows that 47% of the 73,000 children living below the low-income cut-off (after-tax) have at least one parent working full-time, full year (Chart 4).
'Given that the Premier has made the commitment to end child poverty in five years, she is going to have to come up with a better minimum wage policy. Children live in poverty because their parents are not able to earn a living wage,' says Moore-Kilgannon.
'It is also frustrating to see that the government continues to try to justify paying liquor servers less than the minimum wage and is not increasing their wage on September 1st. Women make up the vast majority of liquor servers, so this policy hits women hard.'
A single individual in Edmonton or Calgary would have to work full time at $13/hour just to reach Statistics Canada’s low-income cut off threshold.
'Alberta is one of the most expensive provinces in Canada to live in, and as the economy is heating up the rising cost of living is forcing many hard-working Albertans to struggle to make ends meet,' says Moore-Kilgannon."
I'll have more to say about poverty reduction next week, stay tuned.