British Columbia

$15 minimum wage won't be enough in Victoria, says chamber of commerce

Minimum wage in B.C. is going up, but it's not enough to address the high cost of living in Victoria, says the head of the local chamber of commerce.

Many Victoria employers are already offering salaries well above that level, says Catherine Holt

The high cost of living in Victoria means that raising minimum wage to $15 an hour isn't adequate, says the Chamber of Commerce. (Deddeda Stemler/Canadian Press)

Minimum wage in B.C. is going up, but it won't be enough to address the affordability crisis in Victoria, says the head of the local chamber of commerce.  

B.C. Premier John Horgan announced this week that the minimum wage — currently $11.35 — will increase to $12.65 on June 1. The wage will keep going up each year until it hits $15.20 in 2021. 

"If you look at the price of life in Victoria, $15 an hour is not going to do it," Catherine Holt, CEO of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, said on CBC's On The Island

The living wage — an hourly wage for an adequate quality of life — in Victoria is $20.01 an hour, according to a 2017 report by the Community Social Planning Council of Great Victoria. 

Attracting workers the bigger issue

Someone working 35 hours per week at $20.01 per hour would earn $36,400 a year. Two adults taking in that much could afford to raise two children in Victoria, says the report. 

In comparison, someone earning $15.21 would would make about $31,000 a year.

Holt said the minimum wage increase will be largely symbolic in Victoria. 

She said employers are already offering wages well above the minimum in an effort to attract more workers. 

"We've got lots of job vacancies, and the reason people aren't coming to take those jobs is largely because of the cost of housing and transportation and childcare in the city."

She said if the government wants to make a difference, it needs to invest on all those fronts. 

Listen to the full interview with Catherine Holt. 

With files from CBC's On The Island