Karen Maleka is a part-time personal support worker. She works in and around Cambridge, taking care of sick people, old people, people who can no longer care for themselves. Each week she works 35 to 40 hours, and yet her employer classifies her as a part time employee.

Ontario’s economy is changing faster than its labour laws, and Karen’s situation is increasingly common. Every year more full time jobs disappear, replaced by part time, temporary, and contract jobs. These precarious jobs are lower waged than similar, full-time work. They come with few if any employment and health benefits, like paid sick or vacation days. They are unpredictably scheduled and lack protections when wages and rights are violated.

Last Thursday, members of Voices for Change Halton held an information picket in front of No Frills in beautiful downtown Burlington, Ontario. Passersby were given material from the Put Food in the Budget Campaign.

Loblaws was chosen because 80 percent of Canadians shop at their grocery stores. Despite being very profitable, these stores are well known for paying employees low wages. Loblaws cashiers are paid as little as $11 an hour.

This means that even if they manage to work 35 hours per week for a full year – most employees are part-time – their annual income would be $20,020 before taxes. The poverty line in Ontario is $19,930 for a single adult and $28,185 for a lone parent with a child under six years of age.