Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Markets | By Erika Turner

Premier John Horgan announces another minimum wage increase

Premier John Horgan announces another minimum wage increase

British Columbia will follow in the footsteps of both Alberta and Ontario in implementing a plan to raise the minimum hourly wage to $15 per hour, the provincial government announced Thursday.

It is also the timeline the NDP campaigned on ahead of the 2017 election. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver criticized the government for putting in a firm deadline for implementation while the Fair Wages Commission was preparing it's recommendations.

The Fair Wages Commission's report to Labour Minister Harry Bains is dated January 17.

For companies who are unsure they will be able to pay their employees, Horgan says they are looking into ways to help them. "We're taking the recommendations of the Fair Wages Commission".

BC Federation of Labour president Irene Lanzinger said she's disappointed it will take over three years to raise the minimum wage to $15.20 an hour, noting Alberta's increase is expected later this year and Ontario's in 2019.

The four hikes represent a 34 per cent increase over four years and comes on the heels of the work of B.C.'s Fair Wage Commission.

"I believe we've made significant progress and I'm certain that those that are making the minimum wage today will feel better [in June] of this year, and again the year after that and the year after that", Horgan said.

"Regular, predictable increases to our minimum wage are one important way we can make life more affordable for people", Premium John Horgan said. "I am especially concerned that this may be the straw that breaks some of them", she said.

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. "The Liberals, there was no clear path to 15".

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"While front-loading the minimum-wage increase will cause challenges for some businesses, the four-year timeline, with projected increases, will help businesses plan and incorporate those costs into their budgets".

"I was hoping for a result that addressed a bit more of the urgency that a lot of minimum wage workers are facing", Thompson told host Gloria Macarenko.

Ian Tostenson, CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association, said wages are not the cause of understaffing.

The minimum wage in B.C. was not increased between 2001 and 2010, before rising by $2.25 to $10.25 by 2012.

He says the $1.30 increase this June will benefit 94,000 minimum-wage earners.

It is, however, short of the living wage of $20.62 in Vancouver, Ivanova said. "Like all British Columbians, our lowest-paid workers deserve a fair shake and a fair wage".

The chamber said it supports wage increases linked to the consumer price index to bring stability and predictability to the increases.

400,000 workers, or 20 percent of workers in B.C., now earn less than $15 an hour.

Commenting on the plight of minimum wage workers he said: "They shouldn't have to rely on foodbanks".

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