British Columbia

B.C. has lowest minimum wage in Canada

As of Tuesday, B.C. has the distinction of having the lowest minimum wage in the country.

As of Tuesday, B.C. has the distinction of having the lowest minimum wage in the country.

B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair said with New Brunswick raising its minimum wage to $8.25 an hour, B.C. is now at the bottom of the pack with an $8-an-hour minimum wage.

It's an embarrassment, Sinclair said.

"Obviously, this government doesn't care," he said.

"It wasn't the time to raise [the minimum wage] while we had a big boom on for four years, it's not the time to raise it when we don't have a boom and the answer, of course, from this government is 'Never. We only raise our own wages, not the wages of the poorest people.' "

Nearly 60,000 people in B.C. earned $8 an hour last year, Sinclair said, while nearly 300,000 earned less than $10 an hour, which he said is below the poverty line.

Among those earning minimum wage is Ian Choy, 25, who works at a small fast food restaurant in Vancouver's downtown core.

Choy, from South Korea, is in Vancouver studying English.

He shares a small apartment with three roommates and sleeps in the living room with another student from Mexico.

Choy said with a wage of just $8 an hour, there are few frills.

"Sometimes I want to eat out, sometimes I want to hang out with my friends and see a movie or I want to buy some clothes, and I don't have money, so actually, I can't," he said.

The B.C. Federation of Labour has long been calling for the province's minimum wage to be hiked to $10 an hour.

The B.C. government has steadfastly refused to increase the wage, saying it would hurt business and result in fewer jobs for young people.

Sinclair noted that while Premier Gordon Campbell and the Liberal government have frozen the minimum wage over the past eight years, the premier's salary has more than doubled.

With files from The Canadian Press