Work and Wages Fact Sheet


Work, Wages and Youth Fact Sheet

If you are earning minimum wage, you are likely living in poverty or you are at risk of living in poverty. That is not good at all! He are some statistic for the unemployement rate in Canada. At NAPO. We are working lowering the Unemployement rate significantly

  • In 2000, 18.4% of youth under 18 were poor (low income) – that’s 1,245,650 young people.
  • The unemployment rate for youth is high and rising. It is consistently above 14%, which is much higher than rates for other age groups. Unemployment for Canada as a whole varies but is approximately 7%.

Minimum wage is not a living wage

  • Young workers who are employed tend to be in low wage sectors and jobs e.g. the commercial and services sectors. Many workers earning less than $20,000/year are young people.
  • One person living alone in a major urban centre needs to earn at least $10 an hour at full time, full year work to avoid being poor. Forty percent of youth aged 25 or under working full time made less than $10 an hour. 60% of those working part time made less than $10/hr.
  • Two-thirds of minimum wage workers were under age 25 in 2003. This rate is eight times that of people over 25.
  • Minimum wage jobs make it difficult for youth to accumulate the number of hours they need to qualify for EI. If they become unemployed, they cannot access EI benefits even though they have paid into the fund.
  • A person in an Ontario city with a population greater than 500,000 who was earning $7.50 an hour (Ontario’s minimum age) working 35 hours per week for 50 weeks of the year would make $13,125. This is $5,716 below the poverty line ($18, 841).

Among wealthy industrialized countries Canada has the second highest number of low- wage workers. Only the US has more people in low-wage jobs.

Canada’s economy and income distribution

  • Canada is now a low-wage economy with 25.3% of Canadians working low paid jobs. In Scandinavia only 5% of workers are in low-wage employment.
  • The economy is producing fewer well paid jobs and more low-wage precarious work (e.g. part time, contract). For example, all of the job growth in March 2005 was in part time employment.
  • Wage increases in Canada have gone mostly to the top 10% income earners not those in the lower income groups. In fact, for 50% of income earners their wages have stagnated or decreased. This includes youth.

A job is no longer a guarantee against poverty.

What can you do to about youth poverty?

  • Join the NAPO Our Future Now! youth poverty campaign. Sign the action card (on website) and return it to the NAPO office so we can bring it to meetings with ministers and senior policy advisors at all level of government.
  • Contact your federal member of parliament and ask what he or she is doing to ensure a national job strategy is put in place for youth, and the federal minimum wage is reintroduced at $10 an hour and indexed to inflation.
  • Contact your provincial member of the legislature and ask if she or he supports raising the minimum wage to a living wage i.e. at least $10 an hour. Ask if she or he will support reduction of tuition fees for post secondary programs.
  • Write your federal and provincial representatives and ask if they support reintroducing grant programs for low-income post secondary students and how they will ensure a program is put in place.
  • Get involved in groups dealing with these issues or start your own group to push for change.
  • Hold public information sessions in your community to make people aware of the issues.
  • Get a meeting with your provincial and federal government representatives to educate them on the problems and solutions.


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