May 8th, 2020

COVID-19 exposes the need for better wages

HALIFAX -- The Nova Scotia NDP is renewing its call for a $15 minimum wage, and calling on the Liberal government to work with unions and employers to permanently increase pay and protections for all workers.

“During the current pandemic, we can clearly see that some of the lowest paid workers are also some of the most essential,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “Many of the cleaners, grocery store workers, gas station attendants, laundry workers, food service staff and other essential workers who are on the front line of this pandemic make less than $15 per hour. Before the pandemic, these workers were struggling to make ends meet. The pandemic has simply turned up the brightness on the spotlight.”

The federal and provincial governments announced a new bonus for health care workers who are responding to COVID-19. Yet, many other workers on the front line of the COVID-19 response make less than is available through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

“Whatever the mechanism, all workers in Nova Scotia need better wages and better protections during this pandemic and beyond,” said Kendra Coombes, NDP Labour spokesperson. “For years, workers and the unions that represent them have been sounding the alarm about the need for better wages, higher staffing levels in health care, and added workplace protections. The Liberal government should be working with unions to meet these demands now and into the future.”

Nova Scotia’s minimum wage increased to $12.55 on April 1, 2020. The NDP has tabled a number of bills since the 2017 election to see the minimum wage hit $15 by this year.