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Protestors confront MPP Elliott over minimum wage rollback

Protestors for a $15 an hour minimum wage today confronted Newmarket-Aurora MPP Christine Elliott in Aurora as she made her way into a local chambers of commerce event.

Protestors for a $15-an-hour minimum wage today confronted Deputy Premier and Newmarket-Aurora MPP Christine Elliott in Aurora as she made her way into a local chambers of commerce event.

The group asked her if she'll fight for a fair wage for workers and take their concerns to Queen's Park.

Earlier, representatives from Fight for $15 and Fairness and the Ontario Federation of Labour lined up along the driveway at the Royal Venetian banquet hall, chanting slogans, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, poverty wages have to go!" and, "1, 2, 3, 4, no one should be working poor!"

Newmarket regional councillor and deputy mayor candidate Joan Stonehocker was on the protest line chanting her support for fair wage for Ontarians.

Jessa McLean, $15 and Fairness group spokesperson, said more than 500 names from Elliott's northern York Region riding have been collected on a petition, but the group hasn't been able to deliver it to the politician because she has yet to meet with them, despite numerous requests.

"We tried to make appointments with multiple politicians, Elliott, Caroline Mulroney, but they put us off at every turn," McLean said. "$15 an hour is not enough for workers and to take it back is unconscionable."

Elliott listened to the protestors for about one minute and said she couldn't make any specific comments on their issues. However, she said she would read their material.

"I'd be happy to meet with you," she said.

The former provincial Liberal government committed to raising the current $14 an hour, which took effect Jan. 1 this year, to $15 on Jan. 1, 2019.

The new Progressive Conservative government would have to introduce new legislation to overturn the upcoming minimum wage increase.

Premier Doug Ford last week said the wage hike is not going to happen, given the results of an audit showing the province $15 billion in debt.

Meanwhile, inside the banquet hall, the joint luncheon between the Aurora and Newmarket chambers of commerce continued, with Elliott as the day's guest speaker.

The deputy premier and MPP spoke about the Progressive Conservative government's priorities, and about what she said is its success delivering on its campaign promises.

Elliott mentioned finding efficiencies and the $15 billion debt found during a line-by-line review of government spending, her government's commitment to ending "hallway medicine," and more.

The business crowd asked a few questions of their own, including what her response is to the protestors outside that day in support of a $15 minimum wage.

To that, Elliott repeated most of what she said to the outside group only an hour earlier, and added that there needs to be a balance between a minimum wage and businesses being able to absorb that extra cost.

"There are two sides to this," she said.

Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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