Minimum wage is in the spotlight, after fast food workers across the United States walked off the job.

The rally last Thursday called for an increase in the federal minimum wage, from $7.25 US per hour hour to $15.

The issue resonates here in Thunder Bay, where more than a quarter of the population is employed in service and sales jobs, according to the 2006 census.

Meghan Eddy waits tables at Kangas Sauna and restaurant on Oliver Road.

Although she makes a little more now, she put herself through two years of school on minimum wage.

"It would be just enough to get me through the year if I didn't spend anything," Eddy said.

"At the end of the summer, you get a little bit if you save. But it's not a lot."

Minimum wage is a bit higher in Canada than it is in the U.S. In Ontario, for example, it's $10.25 Cdn per hour.

That's about what Bahram Dadgostar, dean of business administration at Lakehead University, believes it will become south of the border. 


Bahram Dadgostar, dean of business administration at Lakehead University, says it's unlikely rallies similar to those in the U.S. will happen in Canada. (Adam Burns/CBC)

He said the protesters who walked off the job last week are demanding a lot, "but the compromise might be something close to what we have in Canada, or a little bit below what we have."

But Kendra Coulter, a professor of labour studies at Brock University who specializes in the retail industry, said $10.25 per hour still constitutes a "poverty wage."

She noted that rate has been frozen since 2010, despite increases in the cost of living.

"What that means is that you may be lucky enough to get full-time work, year-round, earning minimum wage, but you're still going to fall below the poverty line," Coulter said.

But Dadgostar said it's important to strike a balance between workers' rights and the need of businesses to make a profit.

"We have to take a balance and see we are not pushing people out of the business, or we are not starving people," he said.

Dadgostar does not expect rallies similar to the one that happened in the U.S. to occur any time soon in Canada.

Meghan Eddy agrees, but said she would welcome a similar movement. 

"I think it's hard for [service workers] to get together, because there's so many of us," she said, "but we're not like a union or anything. We're just kind of scattered everywhere."

Eddy said she supported the goal of the rallies.

"15 [dollars an hour] would be really nice," she said.