September 14, 2014 - 8:26 AM
VANCOUVER - The New Democrats are promising to bring back the minimum wage for employees who work in federally regulated sectors.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair announced on Saturday that if the NDP forms the next government it would set a minimum wage of $15 an hour for those who work in companies or agencies regulated by the federal government, such as many workers at airports or in telecommunications.
Mulcair says the Liberals and Conservatives did nothing to raise the bar while in power, and he accused the Liberals of scrapping the federal minimum wage when they were in power in 1996.
"It is unacceptable in a country as rich as Canada that people can work full time and still live in poverty," he said. "It was a cynical move to begin with by the Liberals because instead of raising the bar, they lowered it."
Mulcair says although the number of workers who would benefit is small — overall federally regulated full and part-time workers make up only about six per cent of the Canadian workforce — raising their wage will pressure the provinces to do more.
"This leadership we are showing today by talking about a living wage — a $15-an-hour wage — will have positive repercussions on the provinces," he said.
The New Democrats made a similar promise before the last two federal elections.
Mulcair also spent time at this weekend's annual meeting of Unifor, Canada's largest private sector union.
All three federal parties are going into political campaign mode, as the 2015 election is scheduled to take place just over a year from now.
Saturday'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.
It's also expected the New Democrats will unveil plans for a national child-care program and infrastructure investment.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2014