Archive for July, 2015

How a $15 Minimum Wage Reduces Poverty and Saves Us All Money

July 23, 2015

[ed: This article also appeared in today’s Waterloo Region Record.]

Karen Maleka is a part-time personal support worker. She works in and around Cambridge, taking care of sick people, old people, people who can no longer care for themselves. Each week she works 35 to 40 hours, and yet her employer classifies her as a part time employee.

I met Karen last Thursday morning in a Tim Horton’s parking lot on Hespeler road, where she had just hopped off the bus. As we drove towards Guelph, where Karen would share her experiences at a public consultation organized by the Ministry of Labour, I asked her what she planned to say. “I’m going to talk about benefits. Because my employer says I’m part time I have to re-qualify for benefits every year, by working at least 1500 hours. Last year my friend found out she had cancer. She missed a lot of work because she was so sick, and she lost her benefits.”

Ontario’s economy is changing faster than its labour laws, and Karen’s situation is increasingly common. Every year more full time jobs disappear, replaced by part time, temporary, and contract jobs. These precarious jobs are lower waged than similar, full-time work. They come with few if any employment and health benefits, like paid sick or vacation days. They are unpredictably scheduled and lack protections when wages and rights are violated.

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Come to Employment Standards Community Forum to Make Jobs Better and Fight Poverty

July 17, 2015

Traditional full-time jobs, the kind that come with a regular schedule and benefits, are increasingly being replaced by “precarious” jobs, which are part-time or on contract, unpredictably scheduled, and without benefits.

These facts are now commonplace, and many of us also understand that this is a real problem.

So, good news! We are in the midst of a major and unique opportunity for change. For the first time ever, through “The Changing Workplaces Review,” our provincial government is updating the Employment Standards Act and the Canadian Labour Relations Act. We can influence policy, now, before Review wraps up this fall, to improve jobs in Ontario and reduce poverty.

Not sure where to start? Come join us next Thursday, July 23rd, at the Employment Standards Community Forum that HoF is co-hosting with the Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries.

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Welcome Chloe and Khadija

July 13, 2015

We are pleased to welcome Chloe and Khadija who will be with us at the Food Hamper Program from July to August.  They sat down together early on and took some time to interview each other.  Over the summer they will be writing a series of posts to share some of their experiences, to share the perspectives of the people we serve and to pass along a few of the things that they learn during their time with us.

Khadija shared:

“Chloe France has already volunteered at the House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program so she was ready to jump right in as my co-intern! As a fifth year student at the University of Waterloo she has kindly offered her tips and tricks for navigating successfully through not only work but also school. Her passion and keen interest in social relations keeps me excited to not only learn abundantly this summer while at the HOF but also work closely with a new friend.”

Chloe shared:

“Khadija Hamidzai is a new recruit to the Emergency Food Hamper Program making her first few days as a summer student quite an eye-opening experience! But with her purposeful attitude and vibrant personality she has taken all of her tasks in stride and has quickly meshed with the rest of the team. I am excited to watch her on her journey this summer as she continues to learn more about the people we work with and the issues we face creating experiences that she can take with her in her future career in this field.”

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Drawing Inspiration From The Front Line

July 8, 2015

Where do you work and what do you do?

I work for House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program. My job title is “volunteer coordinator—intake worker,” and so a lot of the work I do is coordinating volunteers and doing intake with our program ‘patrons.’ I also write for, and help to coordinate HOF’s blog.

What keeps you motivated?
Is anyone always motivated? I think it’s only natural that some days are overwhelming and disheartening, the world being the way it is—global warming! The Economy! ISIS!—and doing the kind of work we do. And I try not to feel despair about feeling despair, if that makes sense. I like the idea that “it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” You need to be a functioning person in the world, but maladjustment or anxiety or whatever can also be a sign that you are paying attention to what’s wrong around you. MLK has also made this point, in his singularly eloquent way: “through such maladjustment, I believe that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.” (more…)