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Farm Groups Uneasy about Minimum Wage Hike

Ontario to Raise Minimum Wage by 75 Cents

By Amanda Brodhagen,

The Ontario government’s plan to raise minimum wage by 75 cents to $11.00 per hour, starting June 1, 2014, has some farm groups concerned; the most vocal being the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, or OFA.

Ontario’s largest farm group, the OFA, said it has long protested an increase in minimum wage, saying that it would “hurt” farmers, especially fruit and vegetable growers who rely on seasonal labour for much of its workforce.

“Farmers are unable to recoup wage increases by adding the additional cost of production to the price we receive for our farm products,” OFA said on its website.

The farm group believes that increasing the minimum wage is “poor public policy,” instead, OFA would rather see minimum wage increases tied to the Consumer Price Index.

OFA asks the government to consider its recommendations that it put forward Oct. 18, 2013. You can read OFA’s submission to the Minimum Wage Panel here.

While less vocal about their opposition to the changes in minimum wage, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, or CFFO, echoes much of OFA’s concerns.

“We believe that there needs to be a fair and just way to move forward on this policy,” Nathan Stevens, CFFO’s general manager said in an emailed statement. “The CFFO is very concerned about how to go about alleviating poverty, but minimum wage is a course tool to use to combat it. We believe a diverse set of tools is needed, including things like preferential tax treatment for low-income households,” he said.

During minimum wage talks, Premier Kathleen Wynne told the farm groups that there needed to be a compromise on the minimum wage issue. “The voices of Ontario agriculture helped shaped the government's position on what the right balance would be,” Wynne said in an emailed statement. “I made it very clear early on that we would not be considering a hike to $14,” she said. Several anti-poverty groups were pushing for $14 to be the minimum wage, but the Ontario Liberals decided to go with $11 instead.

“In regards to the timing of the increase, we hope that loss of value in the Canadian dollar will cushion many of our export producers as they adjust to the higher minimum wage,” explains Stevens.

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Com-Gen Lunch #5 - Solar on Every Rooftop in the Bow Valley

Video: Com-Gen Lunch #5 - Solar on Every Rooftop in the Bow Valley

Sometimes community renewable energy does not have to be one solar or wind project in a community. At the Com-Gen Lunch on June 26th, 2020, Jodi Conuel of the Bow Valley Green Energy Co-operative outlined the organization's vision for making renewable energy affordable and accessible for people in their community. But how?

Jodi Conuel explains by pooling financial resources within the community, Bow Valley Green Energy will fund rooftop solar projects and other forms of community renewable energy. The energy is either sold back to the grid or the owner of the building where the install is, for example. Profits are shared among investors and invested into community projects.

The video will provide you with a great 'playbook' on how to form a community renewable energy co-operative and point out some of the challenges you may face. For Jodi and Bow Valley Green Energy it is important to not only see this initiative succeed in their community, but to inspire similar initiatives across Alberta as well.

Community Generation Network is made up of community groups, co-ops, installers, municipalities and individuals in Alberta who are interested in creating community renewable energy projects (i.e. renewable energy projects that generate benefits for communities beyond electricity). The Com-Gen Lunch is a biweekly opportunity to discuss the community benefits of developing your own community renewable energy projects with peers and partners and hear success stories from right here in Alberta. It is hosted by the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association and Rural Routes to Climate Solutions



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