NDP Urges Government to Implement a $15 Minimum Wage

Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour la première ministre.

Nurses—many of them are here with us—devote their lives to providing great care. That care is based on needs, not on ability to pay. Nurses are strong advocates for the determinants of health. They know that better incomes mean better health. That’s why nurses, like New Democrats, support a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Why is the Premier refusing to support a $15-an-hour minimum wage when all of the nurses are telling her it’s the right thing to do?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I know the Minister of Labour is going to want to comment on our strategy around minimum wage and the work that we have done in that area. But I wanted to say to the member opposite that this morning, when I spoke to RNAO, I made that exact point—that they have been partners in guiding us in health care, in the evolution of the health care system—but they have also been strong, strong advocates in advocating for strong determinants of health.

They understand very well that housing, child care, decent wage and lack of precarious work, that all of those things feed into healthy outcomes. We appreciate their advocacy. We appreciate working with them on the health care issues, but also on those important social justice issues as well.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mme France Gélinas: Every day, nurses see the impact of poverty and low wages on the patient’s health. Poverty is the number one determinant of health in Ontario. People cannot live healthy lives when they cannot afford nutritious food, when they’re working two or three part-time low-paying jobs but still can’t make ends meet.

Under this government, nearly one in ten workers is taking home a minimum wage that leaves them on the edge of poverty or below. We have to raise the minimum wage to improve the health of the most vulnerable workers of this province. When will this Premier start listening to all of the nurses that came here today and many more that are here to tell you and finally support a $15 minimum wage in Ontario?