NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says he will put the idea of a $15 an hour minimum wage to a vote in Parliament when it resumes next week.
"Household debt in Canada is skyrocketing right now, families are having more and more trouble getting by. The good middle class jobs that people used to be able to rely on just aren't there any more," Mulcair said, speaking in Vancouver on Saturday.
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The NDP plan would start the minimum wage at $12-an-hour, which would gradually rise to $15 by 2019. This would only apply to federally-regulated industries — which includes modes of transport such as railways and ferries, phone services, broadcasting, banks and mining.
"There are hundreds of thousands of families in Canada living on minimum wage, struggling just to scrape by. If we're against poverty in this country, how can we accept that somebody who works full time lives in poverty?"
The NDP plan would reverse the Liberal government’s 1996 decision to scrap the federal minimum wage. Since then, each province and territory has set their own minimum wage, which ranges from a low of $10 in New Brunswick to a high of $11 in Nunavut and Ontario.
Mulcair says the Liberals and Conservatives did nothing to raise the bar while in power.
He says although the affected workers only amount to a small per cent of Canada's overall workforce, raising their wage will pressure the provinces to do more.
Female workers aged 15 to 24 account for about 60 per cent of all minimum wage workers in the country in 2005, the most recent year Statistics Canada studied the topic.
Mulcair is also going to address Unifor, Canada's largest private sector union, which is meeting in Vancouver this weekend.
Today's Vancouver announcement is the first in what is expected to be a number of NDP announcements as it rolls out detailed planks of its platform this fall.