Battle for a living wage is a key to Church’s drive for social justice

Published in The Catholic Register on May 30, 2017

Even as the Ontario government moved to enact new labour laws and increase the minimum wage to $15, experts agree there is no quick fix to protecting workers from the threat of poverty.

“When we look at poverty statistics, there are an awful lot of people who are working and are living below the poverty line,” said Citizens for Public Justice executive director Joe Gunn. “There’s a growing number of people who actually find work and then they can’t – because they can’t get the hours and there are very few benefits and also the pay is so low – they can’t make a go of it.”

In 1891 Pope Leo was worried that working people were drifting away from the faith and from any real ties to their communities under the relentless pressure of the industrial revolution. Post-industrial society – the information economy, the green economy, the sharing economy, etc. – is posing a similar challenge, said Gunn.

“If the faith communities don’t express strong opinions and move our constituency forward, as well as political leadership, then we’ve missed the boat,” he said. “We’ve lost a prophetic opportunity.”

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