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What’s at Stake in the Fight for $15?

On Wednesday morning, April 15, Amelia White left her Scarborough, ON apartment and began her trip downtown. Born in Jamaica, she’d moved with her mother to Lethbridge, AB in the ’70s. It was a lonely time; she remembers being the only black family in the small prairie city. The family soon moved to Winnipeg, where she lived until coming to Toronto five years ago. She likes the city but says she still isn’t used to the crowds.

A short time later, White was on a bustling Toronto street outside the Ministry of Labour, shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of others. The crowd – a mix of union members, students, and activists – was rallying under the banner of “$15 & Fairness,” calling for a higher minimum wage and legal protections to ensure decent work.

“We want $15 an hour so our families can be 10 per cent above the poverty line,” explains White, who earns $11.25 an hour at a local grocery store. “It would help tremendously. I wouldn’t have to worry about the rent or hydro. I can’t afford to do things that I want to do – going to the movies, seeing my friends for coffee. Nothing extravagant.”

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