Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

BC to hike minimum wage by $1.30 in June

THE CANADIAN PRESS Open this
Russell Knight | 09 February, 2018, 01:23

Today's announcement of annual hourly general minimum wage increases from the current $11.35 to $12.65 in 2018, to $13.85 in 2019, $14.60 in 2020 and $15.20 in 2021, effective each June for the next four years, is a reasonable approach.

Minister of Labour Harry Bains says freezing the minimum wage for 10 years hurt people, and then increasing it in "a sporadic and unplanned way" hurt businesses.

Premier John Horgan is scheduled to make an announcement about B.C.'s minimum wage this morning.

About half a million B.C. workers, or 25 per cent of the province's labour force, earn poverty level wages, which is considered less than $15 per hour.

These recommendations were brought forward by the Fair Wages Commission, after tasking the group to consult with communities across the province.

Ahead of the increase, minimum wage on the west coast was higher than in the Yukon, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and the Maritimes, but lower than in Alberta, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

"We proposed the Fair Wages Commission with the goal of depoliticizing the process of setting minimum wage in B.C", Weaver says in a statement. "To ask them to wait three years to be lifted above the poverty line, actually more than three years, is really just not fair in our view".

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Depending on economic conditions, the commission recommended that government consider of an additional hourly increase of up to $.20, to $15.40 an hour in 2021.

She says making 500,000 low paid workers who now make less than $15 wait until June 1, 2021 to climb above poverty wage rates is "not fair".

Iglika Ivanova, a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives B.C. office, said the increases could have been made faster but that it's good that the largest increases will happen in the first two years.

"All these things combined with minimum wage increases are going to help the working poor", she said.

The government is predicting the June increase will benefit 94,000 minimum wage earners throughout the province, along with help drive out economy.

A shortage of young workers in B.C. compounded with the fact many older employees leave the industry because "it's really tough work" is at the root of the problem, Tostenson said.

Horgan said raising the minimum wage is one component of the government's plan to make life more affordable.

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