The following video from City TV offers a smattering of a debate over the issue; unfortunately, I no longer seem able to play video from the CBC, where much more detailed discussion has taken place, so this will have to do. Following the video, I turn to Joe Fiorito's latest observations about working poverty as his column today returns to the story of Doreen, whom I discussed yesterday.
As noted previously, Joe Fiorito has pointed out what a hardscrabble existence Doreen, a personal care worker, leads. Today, he adds to that portrait:
She said, “I broke my glasses last July. I can see, but fine stuff I can’t read.” You guessed right. She has not replaced her glasses. This is the kind of poverty that hurts deep in the bone, dulls the senses, and strangles hope. She has not stopped trying.
Compounding Doreen's problems are the expenses involved in keeping her qualifications current; she recently received a letter from one of the agencies for whom she is on an on-call list:
The letter advised Doreen that, if she wanted to stay active on the agency’s list and be eligible for work in the future, then she had to renew her first aid and CPR certificates.
Trouble is, the course preferred by that agency costs $115 and is only offered on weekends. Doreen works on the weekend for an elderly couple. What this means is that, in order to take the course and renew her certificate, she would have to cough up a day’s pay out of pocket to attend, and she would have to miss two days’ work on top of that.
There are more details about Doreen's travails in Firotio's piece, but I think you get the picture.
As I suggested yesterday, unless and until we are willing to put a human face on the working poor, their plight will never be addressed with any real justice.
UPDATE: Andrew Coyne and business representatives have recently suggested that minimum wage increases are a blunt instrument with which to attack poverty, and that a guaranteed income might be preferable. The cynic in me suggests this could be yet another way that business wants government to subsidize their operations; should they ever express a willingness to give up some of the generous corporate tax cuts that have come their way over the past several years as a show of good faith, perhaps then I will take them seriously.