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Rally held in Corner Brook to bring awareness to fight for hike in minimum wage

A group of supporters listen to Mary Shortall of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour talk about the importance of fighting for a decent wage in this province during a Friday protest.
A group of supporters listen to Mary Shortall of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour talk about the importance of fighting for a decent wage in this province during a Friday protest. - Dave Kearsey

Jennifer Ralph would love to see more people walk the walk when it comes to fighting for a decent wage in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Cox’s Cove native, a student at College of the North Atlantic in Corner Brook, was among the 100 people who participated in a Friday rally as part of the fight to have the minimum raise hiked to $15 in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The rally was led by Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour president, Mary Shortall, hearing the word "shame" repeated as she revealed statistics about the high number of Newfoundlanders living in poverty with the minimum wage at $11.15 per hour as she addressed the crowd at Sir Richard Squires Building in Corner Brook.

“I’m going to be out in the workforce eventually and I don’t want to make $11.15 an hour," Ralph said. "I can’t live on that.”

She felt it was important to show her support for unfair wages because the fight has been going on for a long time and it appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

“Our minimum wage now isn’t livable on. Somebody who makes $11.15 per hour takes home approximately $700 every two weeks and that’s not enough for rent and groceries,” she said.

Danny Quilty, president of the Corner Brook District Labour Council was one of the union officials who addressed the crowd during the rally.

Quilty said that Corner Brook is a beautiful place, but it’s an expensive place to raise a family so he sees a hike in the minimum wage as a means to curb some of the suffering that families are enduring with the economy going through tough times.

“If the workers making the minimum wage had an increase to $15 I don’t think they would be hiding it away in offshore bank accounts. They would use it to better the day-to-day lives of them and their families,” Quilty said. “We need to keep up the fight."

Ralph was hoping to see more people show their support at the rally, but she understands why the numbers sometimes don’t add up when it comes to public events.

She hopes people will continue to fight because the future of so many depend on whether or it they can stay in a place where it’s difficult to survive.

“Come out and fight for it — fight for what we deserve,” Ralph said. “Everybody deserves to live on a decent amount of money and what we have now isn’t enough.”

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