Since the Ontario government announced a progressive minimum wage raise to $15 by 2019 (Bill 148), there has been no shortage of voices forecasting economic doom and gloom.

The voices of the over 50,000 citizens across Halton, currently eking out a living on minimum wage, were conspicuously absent. The Halton Poverty Roundtable‘s vision is to see every Halton resident with access to a livable income by 2026. As a multi-sector catalyst that brings together resources and partners around innovative and systems-focused solutions around poverty, we embraced income security solutions because of the members at our table with the lived experience of poverty. The voices have been telling us for the over six years we have been working together, it’s not just about shorter housing waitlists and more food banks, it’s about having the dignity of choice and of being able to live and not just subsist.

There is a real need to change the questions being asked around Bill 148. Instead of ‘How will businesses afford to keep their doors open with this coming wage raise?’, the question we need to start with is “Should someone working full-time have to access social services (food banks, Ontario Electricity Support Program, etc.) to support themselves or their family?”