Raising the minimum wage in Canada is a polarizing issue to say the least.

Business owners are worried about the cost, with CEO’s speaking out against the raise. The latest being Eric R. La Fleche of Metro Inc and Loblaws’ CEO Galen Weston.

According to the Huffington Post, Weston ‘complained to investors about the irritating cost of paying its workers a living wage’  However, Loblaws doubled its profits last year.

But others feel that it is time for those working in low wage jobs to be making more, with several provinces committed to raising the minimum wage.

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Chances are you know at least one person who is working a part-time or low wage job or you yourself have. The research shows that the majority of those who work in those jobs are workers of colour or women.

According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation almost 70 per cent of part-time workers are women and 60 per cent of minimum-wage earners are female. They also found that most women facing poverty in Canada are working, but ‘can’t earn enough to lift themselves out of poverty because they are clustered in these low-paid and precarious jobs.’

Workers of colour earn 81 cents for every dollar and there is an even wider gap for workers of colour that are women, Indigenous or have accessibility issues.

Labour laws and raising the minimum wage are both ways to address this issue and another tool is unionization.

Unions have lead the way when it comes to fair wages and good jobs for all Canadians including women and workers of colour.

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In Alberta alone, union women earn $7.76/hour more than non-union workers and Indigenous union workers earned $8.47/hour more than non-union.

Besides fair wages, union workers also have safer workplaces, health benefits and fair scheduling – all things lacking in many low-wage and precarious positions.

While raising the minimum wage is important, unionization has become an important part of helping workers across Canada.

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