Bish­ops: liv­ing wage ef­fort is a moral re­spon­si­bil­ity

If em­ploy­ers could all pay a min­i­mum $15.85, it would trans­form our so­ci­ety


“Money isn’t the bot­tom line for ev­ery­thing, peo­ple are the bot­tom line for ev­ery­thing,” said a par­tic­i­pant at the re­cent So­cial Au­dit con­ducted in Hamil­ton.

We couldn’t agree more. As a so­ci­ety we are called to care for the dig­nity and well-be­ing of all our cit­i­zens. Yet more than 29,000 Hamil­to­ni­ans go to work but do not earn enough at their jobs to move out of poverty.

This re­al­ity must spur us to ac­tion. At a time when many seek to sow divi­sion and dis­cord, pay­ing liv­ing wages is an act of jus­tice and in­clu­sion.

As bish­ops we have had the priv­i­lege of hear­ing many sto­ries from Hamil­to­ni­ans and it’s abun­dantly clear that no one chooses to live in poverty.

Five years ago, a coali­tion of com­mu­nity part­ners in­clud­ing the Hamil­ton Round­table for Poverty Re­duc­tion and the So­cial Plan­ning and Re­search Coun­cil of Hamil­ton launched the Liv­ing Wage Hamil­ton ini­tia­tive to en­cour­age lo­cal em­ploy­ers — in­clud­ing the mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment — to end work­ing poverty in the city. Our dioce­san of­fices are rooted in Hamil­ton and since that time we have sought to meet or ex­ceed the cur­rent liv­ing wage rate of $15.85 per hour for all our staff. We be­lieve that pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ees with liv­ing wages is im­por­tant; for it speaks to our be­lief that God has pro­vided enough for all if we truly em­brace the call to eq­ui­tably share th­ese re­sources.

Es­tab­lish­ing liv­ing wages holds the prom­ise to trans­form the lives of so many in our prov­ince; pro­vid­ing a decent qual­ity of life with op­por­tu­ni­ties to fully par­tic­i­pate in our so­ci­ety through recre­ation, culture, and entertainment. If we im­ple­ment a fair min­i­mum wage in On­tario the very fab­ric of our so­ci­ety would be trans­formed for the bet­ter.

Of course many will ar­gue their bud­gets sim­ply won’t al­low for this prac­tice to be im­ple­mented. We un­der­stand the chal­lenges to make ends meet. But such chal­lenges do not ab­solve us of our re­spon­si­bil­ity and we must be stead­fast in mov­ing to­ward the vi­sion of a so­ci­ety where all have enough.

We, along with over 30 or­ga­ni­za­tions in this city, have rec­og­nized that we have a moral re­spon­si­bil­ity to guar­an­tee that all of our em­ploy­ees re­ceive a wage that lifts them above the poverty line.

Paid em­ploy­ment, af­ter all, should be a path­way out of poverty.

Draw­ing on a deep com­mit­ment to the peo­ple of this com­mu­nity, our en­cour­age­ment is two-fold:

•first, we echo the call of the re­cent So­cial Au­dit re­port and urge the City of Hamil­ton to pay all of its em­ploy­ees a liv­ing wage as part of the 2017 city bud­get. Pay­ing a liv­ing wage would en­hance the City’s noble as­pi­ra­tion to be the best place to raise a child and age suc­cess­fully;

•and sec­ond, that lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers em­brace their moral re­spon­si­bil­ity to the 29,000 peo­ple in Hamil­ton who work but don’t earn enough to be freed from a life of poverty.

To­gether we can un­bind those held cap­tive by poverty; bring­ing re­lease to those who are marginal­ized by low wages. All Hamil­to­ni­ans, and in­deed all peo­ple, should have an ad­e­quate stan­dard of liv­ing, with proper hous­ing, food se­cu­rity and good jobs.

We be­lieve when liv­ing wages are paid, hu­man dig­nity is en­hanced, com­mu­ni­ties are health­ier and ev­ery­body can share in the abun­dance of this in­cred­i­ble City.

Bishop Dou­glas Crosby leads the Ro­man Catholic Dio­cese of Hamil­ton and Bishop Michael Bird leads the Angli­can Dio­cese of Niagara. To­mor­row night, Wed­nes­day, Feb. 15, this and other sub­jects will be ad­dressed at Give Us A Chance to Suc­ceed, a re­port on the 2016 Hamil­ton So­cial Au­dit. The event is be­ing held at the Ni­cholas Mancini Cen­tre be­hind the Cathe­dral at 44 Hunt St., Hamil­ton, from 7 to 9 p.m.


Josie Rud­der­ham and Ni­cole Miller of Cake and Loaf Bak­ery. The bak­ery is among 30 or­ga­ni­za­tions in Hamil­ton that have rec­og­nized the im­por­tance of pay­ing a liv­ing wage. Bish­ops Dou­glas Crosby and Michael Bird ar­gue liv­ing wage is about dig­nity and well-be­ing.

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