Nunatsiaq Online
LETTERS: Around the Arctic January 10, 2018 - 1:20 pm

Territorial unions campaign for $15-per-hour minimum wage

"These are bold acts that are good for low-wage workers and good for the economy"

People line up for food at the annual Labour Day barbecue held by the Northern Territories Federation of Labour and the Public Service Alliance of Canada Sept. 2, 2013 at Sylvia Grinnell Park in Iqaluit. Unions in the three territories have now launched a campaign for a $15-an-hour minimum wage in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)
People line up for food at the annual Labour Day barbecue held by the Northern Territories Federation of Labour and the Public Service Alliance of Canada Sept. 2, 2013 at Sylvia Grinnell Park in Iqaluit. Unions in the three territories have now launched a campaign for a $15-an-hour minimum wage in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)

A new year begins and with it a new hope that the working lives of northerners continue to improve.

PSAC North is today announcing that we are starting a new campaign to increase the legal minimum wage.

In partnership with other labour organizations across the North, we are calling on all three governments to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2019.

Much of our efforts will be in the spirit of the “Fight for $15” movement in a number of Western countries, but as many may know, minimum wage raises are already underway in many other areas of Canada.

As of Jan. 1, 2018, the Government of Ontario increased its minimum wage to $14 per hour (an increase of $2.50) and will be making another raise to $15 per hour in a year’s time.

In Alberta, that province will increase its rate to $15 per hour this October. The B.C. government is likewise looking to implement a $15 per hour minimum wage in the next few years.

These are bold acts that are good for low-wage workers and good for the economy.

These changes in our southern provinces will mean that the North will no longer be in the lead with the highest rates in Canada.

It is high time that our territorial governments act to ensure our workers are not left behind, especially as it costs more to live in the North than the rest of Canada.

Right now, the Nunavut minimum wage sits at $13 per hour— ahead of the Northwest Territories at $12.50 per hour and Yukon at $11.32 per hour.

Between now and the upcoming session of the Nunavut legislative assembly, we will be asking residents of Nunavut to sign a petition and support increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2019.

We will have a paper version of the document in the PSAC regional office, the Nunavut Employees Union office, and a number of other locations throughout the territory.

The results of that petition will be presented to the respective legislative assemblies at a yet to be named date.

We will also be asking citizens to sign a postcard that will go to the premier’s office, and which will show support for the minimum wage increase.

While there is expected to be resistance to this move by members of the business community and others who insist such an increase will disrupt the economy, there is plenty of evidence that shows such a move will mean decreased poverty, decreased reliance on public assistance, increased fairness and increased opportunity for those in our society who most need it.

There are residents who are currently forced to work more than one job and who must work for more than 40 hours per week to make ends meet.

Often they are the most marginalized of our society, whether they be new Canadians, indigenous peoples, or women and may have children or dependents that they are supporting.

Let’s start the year off right and demand that our northern territories be generous to low-income earners. It’s time for a raise.

Jack Bourassa
Regional Executive Vice President
Public Service Alliance of Canada

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(18) Comments:

#1. Posted by Paul Murphy on January 10, 2018

So who is getting less than $15/hour in Nunavut now? Lets be a little more specific please and quote facts please not fiction or opinion. Union leadership here is instigating something here that will have little impact on those few and will shout out loud how they saved Nunavut. I call it BS PSAC.

#2. Posted by No Pun intended on January 10, 2018

Definitely not Akhaliak Office Products Paul Murphy

#3. Posted by Great Work PSAC…....... on January 10, 2018

So I think the lowest wage I have seen in the collective aggrements is $20.xx an hr? I didnt read all of them but a good chunk…...

#4. Posted by Paul Murphy on January 10, 2018

And as usual an anonymous contributor (No Pun Intended) speaking of something they no nothing about. Must be a union member.  Stick to the facts of the post please. Speak about something you are aware is factual.

#5. Posted by Dreamer on January 10, 2018

Way to shoot for the stars PSAC!!

Just following along with your Ontario buddies to get $15/hr minimum wage.  Since the cost of living in Nunavut is far higher than Ontario, shouldn’t you be fighting for FAR MORE than 15? 

“19 for Nunavut” should be where you start.

#6. Posted by sled dog on January 10, 2018

typical union attitude, it’s easy to spend or take other peoples money.

#7. Posted by Self Employed on January 10, 2018

Many Nunavut-miut are not on the union scale.  Not even.  They are hawkers of their goods to suppliment their social entitlement.  People who sold their homelands to see no noticeable difference in the take home. 

They have many depdendents.  Persons who are close to them but less resourceful.  They are free enterprize persons as they have no employers.  $15/hr is an American dream for them but even those jobs are not available to them.  Canada or Nunavut never really invested enough in them.  Not in language, not in ability to function in basic finances.

#8. Posted by Bert Rose on January 10, 2018

Hey # 6 - ever hear of the Rand formula?
Better do some reading too

#9. Posted by Solidarity Forever on January 10, 2018


You want to fight to help workers?
How about helping those even more marginalized than Nunavummiut earning the minimum wage?

Who might those be?

How about those who think they are forced to “work for themselves” for far less than the minimum wage.

Why would they think that?

Perhaps they have a criminal record, don’t know what to do about it, and think no one will hire them because of a mistake they made, many years ago.

Perhaps they cannot read and are afraid of schools.

Perhaps no one will hire them because they have no Social Insurance Number and don’t know how to get one.

Perhaps they have become marginalized in some other way and have “fallen through the cracks”.

Government should help them, but for whatever reason it’s not doing so.

With your help they could become your members.

#10. Posted by Joe Hill on January 11, 2018

I have no objection to a 15 dollar an hour minimum wage but we need to keep in mind that most of the private businesses in Nunavut are already paying way more than the minimum right now.

In Nunavut it’s hard to get anybody to work for you for anything less than $20 an hour.

Also as we all know it is hard to get people to work on time, every day, even for 40 dollars an hour.

I think if the PSAC union really wants to help people they should put some work into organizing employees that do not have unions, such as the North West Company or the mines.

Also, I notice there are no indigenous people anywhere in the executive of PSAC North. That union is still just a lobby group for white people and that needs to change.

#11. Posted by What?!? on January 11, 2018

To Paul Murphy:

One time I had a co-worker working in the retailer sector; for sure, he was paid below the minimum wage here in Nunavut! He even showed me his pay stub because I didn’t believe him!  Yes, this is in Nunavut!  We attempted to have this resolved with the Manager, only to get our asses kicked for attempting to resolve his below minimum wage. Since we are minority, we were grilled because the Manager was non-Inuit.  I am pretty sure there are a few workers out there who was in similar situation.  By the way, we had no way to reach out to Union because the employees are not unionized!

#12. Posted by Jeremiah Ivalu on January 11, 2018

The minimum wage rate of $15.00/hour is not sufficient to live on in Nunavut. Ontario and Alberta will increase their minimum wage to $15.00/hour in the future, but they have highways and their cost of living is low enough that making $15.00/hour would seem sufficient. Now in the state of District of Columbia, the minimum wage is $12.50/hour, in American dollars (1 American Dollar equals 1.2536 Canadian on January 11, 2018). If we exchange that, right now, we would get $15.66 Canadian dollars! The District of Columbia’s minimum wage is set to increase in July 2018 to $13.25/hour.

#13. Posted by Nu rez on January 11, 2018

Getting tired of reading this paul murphys unhelpful and usually downgrading comments everywhere, dont know the guy, hopefully will never will. Not much good comes from this guys head.

#14. Posted by Paul Murphy on January 11, 2018

Nu rez. Might I suggest if you don’t want to read a critical comment about unions, don’t read them. So far you are anonymous and not worth following, however if you have a name and want to discuss a topic with me, you can easily find me.  I don’t hide under assumed names.

#15. Posted by Paul Murphy on January 11, 2018

I just hate that all the money that could go into my failing businesses can be redirected into my company so that I can finally be the greatest eauntrap…intrapu…entrapea…business man of Nunavut.  15 bucks an hour hurts my use of poor people to do the heavy lifting of my over priced office equipment and poor customer service to deliver to you misquoted jackets and mugs.  Do the right thing GN.

#16. Posted by Lorraine Hewlett on January 11, 2018

Years ago, when the minimum wage was initially set up, a person could live on it. They could pay their rent, buy food, clothing, etc. But as the decades passed, the earning power of a worker on minimum wage steadily diminished to the point that the current minimum wage is insufficient to take care of a person’s basic needs. The ideal is that people at least earn a “living wage”. Our governments do not seem ready to implement a living wage. So, we are left with trying to improve workers’ situation by raising the minimum wage. I whole-heartedly agree that the minimum wage in Nunavut should be higher than $15/hr. I believe people should, at the very least, earn a living wage. Because of the political situation, we felt that since other provinces were raising their minimum wage to $15/hr, then all three Territories (Yukon, NWT and Nunavut) should not be falling behind the highest minimum wage offered in southern Canada—not given the cost of living in the North.

#17. Posted by Lorraine Hewlett on January 11, 2018

Here is a quote for your consideration: “I can’t understand how some people don’t mind CEOs making $10,000 an hour, but act like the world would end if the minimum wage was raised to $15 an hour.”

#18. Posted by Lorraine Hewlett on January 11, 2018

In 2017, economist Michel Haener re-calculated the “living wage” required for two parents raising two children living a modest lifestyle in an apartment in Yellowknife. She found that since the last time she had calculated a living wage, the cost of living had increased by $1.50 per hour for each parent. This would also be the same experience for anyone earning minimum wage. The cost of living keeps increasing over time but the minimum wage keeps lagging further and further behind. There have ALWAYS been people who have protested raising the minimum wage. They claim that the sky will fall and the economy will collapse. But that never happens. Essentially, the Employment Standards Act is an unofficial collective agreement for people who are non-unionized.

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