By Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle
God has no enemies, ultimately, for all, all – the atheist, the sinner, every one of those who we have tended in our respectabilities to push outside – are God’s children. Our concern must be to find out how we embrace everybody, how we bring everybody inside, how we say ‘We are all equal, of equal worth in the sight of our Father.’ (Desmond Tutu, God is not a Good Christian: And Other Provocations.)
On January 1, minimum wage in Ontario was increased to $15 per hour.
Now that young adult working at the fast-food restaurant and, thankfully, living at home, only must work an average of 14 hours a week, 52 weeks of the year to afford tuition and books at university. Hopefully, mom and dad still pay all other expenses.
Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Windsor is now $1,255/month. Someone earning minimum wage would need to work 85 hours per month just to cover rent. Hopefully utilities are included in that amount.
If they live in Waterloo, expect to pay an average of $1600, which means working 110 hours per month to cover rent! Remember, those averages are for 1-bedroom apartments. What happens if there are children?
How much do you spend on food each week? How much on clothing? How much does it cost for you to travel to and from work? How much for phone, internet, and other expenses? How many hours would a minimum wage worker need to put in to pay for all the things we so often take for granted?
Increases in minimum wage are often met with concerns that this will ultimately impact the cost of living. Somebody must pay the ‘extra’ costs. It is fascinating that we never seem to contemplate imposing a maximum wage.
When we encounter minimum wage workers – at grocery stores, when we order our food, in big box stores, and more, to what extent do we acknowledge their struggles? How often do we truly look at these individuals? How often do we recognize their longing, their dreams, their frustrations about how unfair the world is for them? To what extent do we realize that these are God’s children, beloved, and of equal worth in the sight of our Father? What can we do to better embrace everybody, to better respect the dignity of every human being as we commit to do in our Baptismal Covenant?
Increases in minimum wage are often met with concerns that this will ultimately impact the cost of living. Somebody must pay the ‘extra’ costs. It is fascinating that we never seem to contemplate imposing a maximum wage. We don’t question when CEOs and shareholders are given large bonuses at the end of a profitable year. There are no concerns expressed about where the money will come from to pay million-dollar salaries of the higher ups in the business. Few seem particularly worried about the fact that there are those who, by the time you read this article, will have made far more than their employees will make all year.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu was truly a prophet for our time, calling us to look with eyes of love, much like Jesus did through his life, death, and resurrection. His words continue to ring true about many marginalized groups. Our work is to seek to bring people inside, to help reveal how all have value and worth in God’s eyes and thus our own.
What more can we do to transform the unjust structures of society that maintain such incredible inequality? How might we use this year’s election as an opportunity to challenge government to care about the wellbeing of all people and creation? How can we use our gifts to embrace all God’s Beloved children in new and transformative ways?
Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle is a tri-chair of SEJH and a tri-chair of Justice League of Huron.