For over 12 years, Erendira Keriti has earned poverty wages that have left her scrambling to afford rent and basic necessities in Toronto’s Bloor West Village. She’s not an exception: the number of low-wage jobs (defined as having an hourly rate within four dollars of the minimum wage) has grown by 94 per cent in Ontario since 1999. In 2015, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reported that more than 1.7 million Ontarians worked for a low wage – a portion of the population that grows as higher-paid, unionized work disappears and is replaced with jobs that are low-wage, temporary, contract, and non-unionized.
An Indigenous (Purépecha) refugee from Mexico, Keriti worked for temporary agencies in Toronto on and off for nine years. She took short-term contracts in factories, cleaning, and construction, often “under the table,” which is the reality for many racialized immigrant women entering Canada’s labour market. The low wages immediately sidelined her into poverty. Click here to read more.