The Toronto Youth Food Policy Council (TYFPC) is in full support and in solidarity with CUPE 3903 and 3902 who are currently on strike for affordable and quality education for all, an equitable work environment, and job security. We understand these strikes to be symptomatic of a larger economic climate that squeezes labour into the smallest fraction of a dollar in order to maximize profit and control at the expense of human rights. Under the current system, 3903 and 3902 members, made up of mostly students, live precariously on wages that are below the poverty line and lack job security.
We are concerned with the broader context of high youth unemployment, precarious work conditions and poverty. Toronto’s youth unemployment rate is 18.1%, the worst of any region in the province. Furthermore, 31% of youth live in poverty. Poverty is an important determinant in the ability of individuals to access food. In 2013, the Ontario Association of Food Banks reported that post-secondary students were among the fastest growing users of food banks in Ontario. Student hunger remains a hidden issue and poverty is seen as an acceptable condition to endure in exchange for a post-secondary education.
We are also concerned with the worker’s rights in other fields including, but not limited to, farmers, migrant labourers and food service workers who are often working extended hours for low wages in precarious conditions. We believe that all people deserve a living wage and stable employment.