In between setting new stay-at-home orders and dolling out fines to businesses for violating pandemic protocols, politicians across Canada continue to not listen to their own advice
Photo C/O Robbie Palmer on Unsplash
Do as I say, not as I do. An old idiom that traces its origin back to the 17th century but continues to ring true to this day. In these times enduring the pandemic, it rings even more true — with possibly dire consequences.
Do you know how many politicians in Canada went on vacation outside of the country over the last 10 months or attended gatherings not permissible according to federal or provincial guidelines?
Barely a week into 2021, there was already a handful of politicians on the federal and provincial level that left Canada for one reason or another. This is not limited to one party either. Liberal, Conservative and NDP alike from Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and more have left the country or illegally attended large gatherings.
While some politicians had somewhat understandable reasons for travelling, including visiting spouses or attending memorials, there are some who went simply on a warm tropical vacation and a few openly bragged about their decision to disobey their own government’s safety protocols.
While we can laugh at these people as they are exposed, publicly shamed and stripped of responsibilities, dismissing them as just another hypocritical politician (what a surprise), this is not just another example of hypocrisy.
During a pandemic that refuses to go away, it is more important than ever for everybody to follow the rules and regulations. As frustrating as they may be, we are incredibly reliant on each person’s ability to follow the rules and do what is right.
As much as we are all capable of thinking for ourselves and making our own informed decisions, it would be nice to see a little accountability from our elected leaders who are actively telling us what we should be doing.
Ultimately, everyone is able to choose how they will handle themselves on an individual level, utilizing the information we now know about COVID-19 and how it spreads to assess their actions and weigh the risks of what they decide.
If they can do something with minimal health risks to themselves and others, that is beneficial for everyone.
If someone decides to break government rules or protocols for whatever reason and does not endanger others, I’m not too concerned about their actions. If you leave the country but isolate yourself afterwards and follow the testing and quarantine protocols, then you did what you were supposed to do.
But if you are someone who has been entrusted with making wise decisions for people and representing their best interests, then there is a higher level of responsibility. You must lead by example.
Don’t just do the bare minimum, but follow your rules over 110%, be extra careful and show others a pristine example of what you can do.
Sadly, this is just another instance where we have been let down by those who we have collectively entrusted to be smart and make the best decisions for us all. How can we trust our politicians to make the best decisions for us when they can barely make a rational decision for themselves?
More than ever, we are extremely reliant on one another making smart informed decisions — our health and safety rely on it. If we ever want things to return to some semblance of ‘normal’, we must think logically and selflessly. Maybe someone should tell politicians that.
On June 2, we posted a short message in solidarity with the protests against police brutality and anti-Black racism, and your comments challenged us to do more. Posting a ‘simple’ sentence without a more substantive commitment to provide an inclusive and representative paper was short-sighted. The message just created the appearance of empty promises, and we are sorry for the harm that it caused.
The Silhouette should represent the diverse voices of the McMaster student and Hamilton community. We have regularly reported on key issues that affect oppressed communities.
However, we have also fallen short in many respects. There is a serious lack of representation throughout Canadian newsrooms, and the Silhouette has not been immune to this. In the past, we have failed as a newspaper to truly reflect the diversity of our communities. This inevitably impacted our coverage.
The media is one of many institutions that often normalizes and perpetuates racism. For example, ignoring stories that centre Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour, only reporting on them in negative contexts, framing the perspectives of people in positions of power as being the most credible and failing to report on racism and hate crimes statistics are just some of the ways that the Canadian media commonly reinforces white supremacy. We have to be cognizant of these forces within our own newsroom.
While we are a service of the McMaster Students Union, we do have the editorial autonomy that allows us to deliver on our responsibility to report about everything McMaster — from art shows and football games to investigative articles on the institutions that have an active hand in shaping our community. This autonomy allows us to ensure all student voices are being protected and amplified when demanding accountability from our leaders on campus. You can voice concerns, criticism, or give feedback to the MSU or administration through the Silhouette.
As a platform to uplift student voices and an active agent in shaping our community narrative, we have not always honoured that responsibility. If you have been ignored, disenfranchised, turned away or had a negative experience with us, we want to know about it. While we can’t make up for the wrong-doings of the past, we will strive to ensure that it does not happen in the future. We have created an anonymous Google Form for you to voice your concerns. Through the feedback we receive, we will be able to listen and learn from those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour, helping to implement new policies and restructure our way of operating. We want to address our mistakes so that moving into Volume 91, we can continue building on our progress thus far.
We hope to deliver on our position of being a student-newspaper that represents the McMaster and Hamilton community. We have developed initial goals on how we can improve, but more importantly, how the McMaster community can hold us accountable.
The ways we can accomplish these goals are not as simple as writing bullet points in an editorial, or making statements, and we are not publishing this as a pat on the back or a way to check off a box. We also want to stress that this is by no means an exhaustive list of goals that we have for the upcoming year, rather this is our acknowledgement of the serious internal shortcomings within our newspaper. There are still a lot of conversations and learning ahead, which will take a lot of follow up on the commitments listed here, in addition to listening and doing our own research. For now, we wanted to communicate these commitments to you, to let the student community know we hear you.
This full commitment, with more details, will be available on our website once we have had time to have the proper conversations that need to be had and listen to the feedback we receive from you, the student population.
The Silhouette has been standing for equity, accountability, honesty, and clarity for a long time. We hope we can continue to deliver on that promise. If you have any feedback, questions, concerns, or any ideas of how we can do better, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below, we have provided a list of many local organizations that help support Black communities in Hamilton and the GTA: Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, Black Lives Matter - Toronto, Black Legal Action Centre, Afro Canadian Caribbean Association Hamilton, Black Students Association McMaster.
We recently received a Letter to the Editor that was critical of an opinion article the Silhouette published last month, titled “Chinese students aren’t brainwashed”. The opinion article voiced concerns about the anti-Chinese rhetoric that emerged following the de-ratification of the McMaster Chinese Students and Scholars Association last September.
An earlier draft of the article, before its publication, had said, “Contrary to what many people in the West may believe, state-run news stories about China, although heavily censored, are in fact quite accurate when they do get published.”
During the editing process, this was changed to, “[...] the fact that state-run news stories about China are heavily censored does not make them factually inaccurate.” This change was reflected in the print version of the article which was published on Jan. 9.
After being contacted by one of our readers, we realized that the initial version of the article had been unintentionally uploaded online. Following this realization, the online version of the opinions article was updated to accurately reflect the final version published in print.
Regardless, the Letter to the Editor states that, despite the change, this new wording is still misleading.
We acknowledge the concerns brought forth by the Letter to the Editor. There is substantial evidence that shows that state-owned Chinese media has been found to publish factually inaccurate and biased information.
As a student-run newspaper, we are committed to truth and accuracy, and we recognize that this comes from highlighting a range of perspectives. This mandate has informed our decision to publish the opinion article in question and allow the author to reference state-owned media. However, we also recognize the danger of falling into the “both sides” fallacy, since not all perspectives are true or deserving of a platform. It is our responsibility as an editorial board to ensure that we are not publishing anything inaccurate or harmful. This is what informed our editing process and our decision to change the article’s phrasing.
The opinions section gives contributors a platform to share their perspectives. We encourage writers to speak to their own lived experiences, and we prioritize viewpoints from those who have been excluded and marginalized in our community.
As we understand it, the purpose of the opinions piece in question was to push against the narrative that students from mainland China are unable to think critically and to challenge a prevalent belief that mainland Chinese students uncritically consume Chinese media.
The author of the opinion piece in question acknowledges that Chinese state media should be viewed critically, stating, “Chinese people are usually hyper mindful of the fact that the government dominates and controls information inflows. Hence, they do not take media at face value and are usually super critical of it.”
In the article, Chinese state-run media is listed as one of many avenues through which Chinese people may receive information, in addition to non-official media channels, social media platforms, online chat groups and western media.
Alongside this specific opinion piece, we have also published articles, in both the news and opinion sections, that were critical of the Chinese government.
We will continue to provide a platform for members of the McMaster community to voice their opinions, while editing with a critical eye to ensure that the information we publish is accurate, balanced and fair.
We were shocked to see the Silhouette publishing, without context, Chinese state propaganda last month. In the original online version of the Jan. 9 article “Chinese students aren’t brainwashed,” the author describes, without evidence, Chinese state media as “quite accurate,” and links to a propaganda article in the Chinese Communist Party-owned China Daily.
After being contacted, the Silhouette amended “quite accurate” to match the print version’s phrasing, “not factually incorrect.” However, this remains misleading. International media outlets, from The Guardian to The Star to the SCMP, have documented how Chinese state media has a history of publishing factually incorrect information to bolster the official position of the Chinese government.
Furthermore, the Silhouette linking readers interested in additional information to state propaganda articles — and failing to contextualize them as such — is a disservice to the very purpose of journalism. While we respect the Silhouette’s press freedom, we strongly urge the editorial board to be wary of the “both sides” fallacy here.
Having a legitimate paper like the Silhouette being subtly co-opted to spread the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda is extremely problematic. This is especially harmful to marginalized students who are being actively oppressed by the CCP, such as Uyghur students facing genocide back home.
We urge the editorial board to ask themselves: are we publishing the truth? Or are we being a megaphone for viewpoints that advance the political agenda of a genocidal regime?
To the author of “Chinese students aren’t brainwashed”: if you have evidence that the CSSA deratification violated any discrimination policies, please release it to the Equity and Inclusion Office for a proper investigation. Otherwise, unsubstantiated accusations are counterproductive; instead, finding the truth is crucial to settling disputes and fighting disinformation. Likewise, the Silhouette should remember that good journalism happens when journalists fear not the sky nor the sea — not when they circulate propaganda points from the Chinese Communist Party.
Jonathan Hai (Engineering) and William Li (Arts & Science)
Historically, McMaster Students Union presidential candidates often have big dreams to tackle issues concerning marginalized communities. Topics that reappear every year include accessibility, reducing financial barriers and sexual violence support. While these platform points can be well-intentioned, they can often be examples of poor allyship instead. Using people of colour, the 2SLGBTQ+ community, disabled people and survivors as talking points for campaigning can be insensitive if candidates are unable to follow through with their platform points.
There are clear examples of platforms that have done this. In 2018, past MSU president Ikram Farah campaigned on reducing financial barriers by re-evaluating the Ontario Student Assistance Program’s structure and reworking it to accurately reflect tuition cost discrepancies between different programs. This would mean that two students who paid different tuition amounts, and who previously qualified for the same amount of financial aid, would instead receive aid that was proportional to their costs. Although Farah completed her presidential term in April 2019, any advocacy done surrounding OSAP hasn’t had a huge impact on OSAP’s structure.
In 2019, current MSU president Josh Marando promised to hire an additional sexual violence response coordinator to address the lack of support for survivors of sexual violence. Marando still has three months left in his term, but the efforts into hiring a new sexual violence response coordinator seem to be lacking. So far, an additional sexual violence response coordinator has yet to be hired.
In addition to an absence of follow-through, candidates also often fail to consult adequately. This year, MSU presidential candidate Krystina Koc aimed to address student safety due to the Westdale and Thorndale break-ins that occurred last year, and to increase support to Maccess. However, Koc’s consultations about student safety were limited and she failed to consult Maccess regarding how to best improve support.
Incoming MSU President Giancarlo Da-Ré’s plans to improve accessibility by making the MSU website compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and increasing the number of courses that use Echo360 to record lectures. He also wants to implement consent culture modules that would be mandatory for welcome week representatives. Although Da-Ré states he has done 100 consultations and has platform points surrounding accessibility and consent, he did not consult Maccess or the Women and Gender Equity Network prior to campaigning.
Evidently, solidarity with low-income students, people of colour, survivors and disabled people have been a large topic of discussion within presidential platforms. However, these campaign points are rarely acted upon or are executed poorly. This leaves me and many others with questions: if these points don’t result in any visible change, why have them in your platform at all?
During campaign season, presidential candidates are trying to win students’ votes. Therefore, it’s usually important to maintain a good public image. Nothing looks better than advocating for a marginalized population. Regardless of whether these candidates actually care for the marginalized populations they’re advocating for, if they’re coming from a place of privilege and put us into their platforms, it can seem like they’re trying to win brownie points for being good people.
Additionally, this allyship quickly becomes performative if the candidates don’t follow through when it comes to supporting marginalized communities — which they often don’t. Even if you have the best intentions to help others, it is hard to change systemic oppression in a one-year term because these structures have been in place for centuries.
Typically, advocacy movements are initiated by marginalized communities themselves, not presidents. This can be seen with the WGEN, which was created to provide a safe space for women and trans people, as well as students that face sexual violence. WGEN was approved by the Student Representative Assembly because of a community survey that provided statistics of students who faced assaults, misogyny and sexism on campus. Although the SRA did come into play with the creation of this service, consultations and surveys were important in its creation, which is what the presidential candidates have been failing to do. In addition, WGEN was spearheaded by women, trans people and survivors advocating for its existence, proving that marginalized communities have always been at the forefront of these movements — not the MSU president. If the MSU president is serious about advocating for marginalized communities, then they need to consult with the groups who represent the needs of these students.
Despite Koc and Da-Ré’s well-intentioned platforms for improving peer support services and consent education respectively, they failed to consult the communities that are directly affected: Maccess and WGEN. How will you help improve support and remove systemic barriers if you do not talk to those that are directly affected?
Becoming the MSU president doesn’t mean that you suddenly have the ability to support marginalized people. Anyone and everyone can support movements to dismantle oppressive barriers — instead of campaigning on the idea that you will support marginalized people during your presidential term, start by supporting them in your everyday lives. Talk to the people you know and ask them how you can support them. Actually consult the marginalized communities you hope to support, not the institutions that oppress us. Even if you can’t make a huge change during your one-year term, you can still make meaningful change through your individual actions as a person. But if you’re not willing to commit to your platform and actually support marginalized students, please leave us out of it.
Last Friday’s climate strike brought the climate crisis to the forefront of public conversation. There is an ever-growing awareness of the dire reality of the climate emergency: if immediate, far-reaching action is not taken, there will be major harm to ecosystems and loss of life.
A 2018 report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that, in order to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C, carbon dioxide emissions would need to fall by about 45 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
Research tells us that the climate emergency is an existential threat requiring immediate, far-reaching action. It is clear that our reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable.
In order to properly address the climate emergency, we need rapid and unprecedented changes in every facet of society. We need to move away from our extraction-based economy that prioritizes growth and resource extraction, towards a justice-centred approach.
Currently, the university employs measures to understand and address climate change, including the McMaster Centre for Climate Change and the SUSTAIN program. McMaster also tracks and reports on its sustainability measures every year.
However, McMaster is more than just a research institution: the University has considerable financial, social and political power that it needs to use to push for far-reaching change.
Piecemeal solutions like banning plastic bags and reducing buildings’ energy consumption are good steps in the right direction, but they are not nearly enough.
Despite claiming to support pro-environment movements, McMaster provides financial support to the fossil fuel industry.
As of last year, $35.96 million, or 4.3 per cent, of McMaster’s endowment fund was invested in fossil fuel companies. By investing in the fossil fuel industry, the university provides not only financial support, but also social license to the very industries that are harming the planet. By continuing to fund the fossil fuel industry, McMaster helps to uphold a system that is completely unsustainable.
According to the Carbon Majors Database, 71 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 can be traced back to just 100 fossil fuel companies. Furthermore, pipelines and other dangerous projects have violated Indigenous land rights in order to extract fossil fuels.
Moving away from this economic system is a much larger discussion, but one tangible step that McMaster can take is to pull investments from the university’s divestment fund out of fossil fuel companies.
Divestment is not an end goal, but is a tactic that aims to “name and shame” the fossil fuel industry. It is morally reprehensible to profit off of the destruction of the planet, and pulling investments out of fossil fuel companies sends a clear message of condemnation.
In 2015, students, staff and faculty members issued petitions urging the university to divest from fossil fuel companies. Former president Patrick Deane struck an advisory committee, which came back with 12 recommendations for McMaster to pursue instead of full divestment.
More recently, MacGreenInvest, a McMaster faculty organization, issued a petition calling on McMaster to divest fossil fuel investments from McMaster’s endowment fund, and reinvest the funds in green renewable energy companies. As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition had over 1,000 signatures on Change.org.
McMaster prides itself on being a leader in sustainable development. It is unconscionable that they pay for this work by investing into companies that profit off of harming the environment.
Students invest a great deal of time and money into the university. The power of how and where students money is spent should lie in the hands of students, and while the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) may give students the illusion that they have the power to choose, a critical look at this government mandated program proves otherwise.
SCI does not empower students — it does the opposite. The threats to services deemed “non-essential”, like the Silhouette, by the Ontario Government come as part of a much broader attack on post-secondary education. In addition to SCI, the provincial government made significant cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP).
Without proper support from OSAP, many students can no longer afford post secondary education. Students are taking on extra jobs, reducing class hours and dropping extracurriculars in order to continue paying the increasingly unaffordable price of education. No wonder that ancillary fees are not everybody’s top priority.
With that being said, campus media is still important. It is needed now more than ever, as the provincial government continues to make changes that will directly impact students, staff and the quality of education.
Campus newspapers exist, first and foremost, to highlight the student voice. We hold university institutions accountable and bring a student perspective to campus and city-wide issues. The Silhouette is dedicated to holding individuals and institutions accountable and making sure that they are acting in students’ best interest. It is our job to ask tough questions and seek the truth.
Over the years, the Silhouette has reported extensively on issues from the Redsuit songbook scandal to the cost of student housing in Hamilton. More recently, the Silhouette released an article highlighting the problems with the MSU’s sexual assault disclosure process, particularly with regard to sexual assault within the Maroons. The release of the article triggered a systematic review of the Maroons and the MSU as a whole, which is still ongoing.
Through our opinions section, members of the McMaster community have an opportunity to share their diverse perspectives on issues impacting student life.
We also have a dedicated arts and culture team that scours Hamilton for the gems you may otherwise miss, encouraging you to explore your city and build community. We profile local artists and highlight independent businesses, focusing heavily on McMaster students and alumni.
Our sports section highlights the accomplishments of McMaster athletes, keeping a close eye on sports from football games to Quidditch matches.
Perhaps most importantly, we provide students with opportunities to learn from one another, develop skills and gain practical journalism experience. We are not perfect. We have a lot of learning and unlearning to do as we evolve as an independent paper and it is a shame for the provincial government to hinder that growth rather than support it.
In order to continue being an integral part of the McMaster community and student voice, we rely heavily on the student levy, and a loss of funding would jeopardize our capacity.
There are no other newspapers that hold the university to this level of scrutiny. Without the Sil, students are left with the McMaster Daily News, a misnomer for what is really the university’s public relations production. A threat to student journalism is a threat to democracy on campus.
McMaster students already chose to fund campus journalism. All MSU fees have been approved through referenda through the SRA. Students democratically chose to fund the Silhouette. By giving students the choice to opt out, the provincial government has blatantly disregarded the will of the students, and in so doing eroded students’ autonomy to make their own decisions.
This shows that SCI is not, and has never been about student choice. It is about reducing the power of students by cutting funding and fragmenting services.
Students have been put in an unfair and difficult position and we, at the Sil, ask students to make an informed decision during the opt-out period.
As the university makes changes to accommodate the funding cuts and policy changes coming from the provincial government, we will be here to report on what is happening and what it means for students.
Feb. 28 is the last day of February. That also means it is the last day of Black History Month and the McMaster Athletic Department has yet to do anything to celebrate it. We saw a number of different causes celebrated at games throughout February; #BellLetsTalk, Chinese New Year and a Pride Game to celebrate the LGBTQA2S+ community. But there has been nothing to celebrate BHM and Black student-athletes and that needs to change.
Almost every major McMaster team has at least one Black athlete. Some teams, like the men’s basketball team and the men’s football team have many more. Celebrating Black history month is acknowledging Black history, and Black athletes should be included in that celebration, given their contributions to Mac’s sports history.
Given everything Black Canadians have endured, the least we can do is acknowledge them. It was not that long ago when Black and white athletes were not allowed to play together, so for them to be able to have come this far and add significant contributions to sports is something worth celebrating.
Though we have not seen much from Marauder Nation, we do appreciate what the Equity and Inclusion Office has done this month to celebrate Black history at McMaster. A number of discussions have been held this month dealing with topics like Black Lives Matter and Blackness and Academia, as well as weekly movie screenings featuring Black centered films. And to wrap it all up they will be hosting the second annual Maroon in Black formal to celebrate the Black McMaster community. But these initiatives do not always reach the audience in the sports community, so it’s important we bring it to them.
Asking for the McMaster Athletic Department to celebrate BHM is not asking them to take away from all the other amazing causes they celebrate in the month of February, but to simply include them too. Whether it is through a t-shirt design like we saw done with Chinese New Year, or a panel discussion featuring Black student-athletes where they can share their experiences like we saw with #BellLetsTalk, or something else that is completely original and creative. As long as there is an effort being made, it will be appreciated.
In a few weeks, the question of whether Hamilton should host private cannabis stores goes before the city’s planning committee.
Within the year before marijuana was legalized, the number of marijuana dispensaries operating in Hamilton had nearly tripled. With nearly 80 dispensaries popping up around the city, Hamilton had the most dispensaries per capita across Ontario, a testament to how huge the weed market really is in our city.
Right now, the only legal way to buy recreational cannabis is through the Ontario Cannabis Store’s website. Come April 2019, the province will roll out a tightly regulated, private retail model which will see the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario granting licenses to private retailers.
Until then, effectively speaking, cannabis dispensaries in Hamilton are illegal and unregulated. But what will happen to the remaining 21 dispensaries that the city has left?
In a presentation in January 2018 by Supt. Ryan Diodati, head of Hamilton’s police’s investigative services, Supt. Diodati noted that nearly 130 hours of staffing time had been invested in one investigation that had taken place in December 2017.
In many cases like this, that same dispensary could reopen the next day, ultimately demonstrating that overall, raids and closures resolve to be ineffective ways to shut down the climbing number of dispensaries across the city.
Municipal governments have until January to opt out of private cannabis stores within their jurisdictions, and there has been lots of talk within city council as to what will happen in April 2019.
Many councillors have put forward their concerns about the fate of dispensaries in the city. Namely Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla, who put forward a motion surrounding the fact that a lack of sustainable revenue sharing from the province in relation to the retail sale of cannabis to municipalities will amplify the regressive downloading crisis in Hamilton.
Considering the effect of nearly 130 hours of police staffing time that goes into one investigation and considering just how obsolete this work really is in shutting dispensaries down, where do we go from here?
Is there a reasonable point in shutting down the remaining dispensaries in Hamilton if they have the resources to open up again within hours? Is there a point to reallocating resources from our police department towards something that has proven to be ineffective?
As of April 2019, storefront dispensaries will have to be licensed by the province, but there will be no cap on the number of outlets within the city. Instead of wasting resources, energy and money on eliminating existing dispensaries within Hamilton, providing these businesses with a license would mean a more accessible and regulated approach to legalization.
The city’s planning committee will decide whether they want to host private cannabis stores on Dec. 11.
[spacer height="20px"]A few weeks ago, the provincial government froze the minimum wage at $14 per hour and cut the planned increase to $15 per hour that was planned for January 2019. With this cut, many businesses, but not all, have decided to forgo the planned increase they had set up for employees. The McMaster Students Union should not be one of them.
Studies have shown that the actual living wage in Hamilton is $15.85. The cost of tuition ranges, but the majority of programs at McMaster are roughly $7000, with some programs slightly below that figure, and many significantly above, going as high as $13,829. There’s no collected data on the average rent McMaster students pay, but anecdotal evidence points to most students living in off-campus housing paying somewhere around $500 per month, not including utilities. Some students pay less and others pay more.
With this in mind, working during your undergraduate degree is inevitable for a lot of people. Whether it’s a retail job or a paid internship, many students find themselves working two to three jobs at a time just to pay all of their fees. I can personally think of a handful of friends and acquaintances who juggled three jobs just to pay for rent and school.
The MSU employs 300 students, and the jobs they offer are unique to the university bubble. They offer the kind of experience many people would not receive otherwise and are often set up with the student schedule in mind, making them ideal for anyone who wants to work on campus. The MSU’s minimum wage for these jobs is currently $14.15.
It’s no secret that students are struggling to pay tuition and the rising costs of rent. One of the easiest ways to support these students is to go ahead with the wage increase, something that had already been worked into the 2018-2019 budget.
The MSU has a lot of initiatives that support low-in- come students such as the Food Collective Centre, but one of the easiest ways they could vastly improve the livelihood of hundreds of McMaster students is by raising the wages for their workers. The MSU is run almost entirely off of student labour, so it would only make sense that these students are compensated appropriately.
If the MSU really wants to support low-income students, they could easily do so by making sure that their workers are compensated appropriately. In doing so, they set a standard not only for other student unions but for any future employers students may have.