British Columbia

B.C. minimum wage to be tied to the province's Consumer Price Index

The minimum wage in B.C. will be tied to the province's rate of inflation and rise every September.

Decision called 'pathetic' by B.C. Federation of Labour president

Manitoba's minimum wage went up 25 cents to $10.70 Oct. 1, 2014. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

The minimum wage in B.C. will be tied to the province's rate of inflation and rise every September, Jobs Minister Shirley Bond announced Thursday.

Bond said that the rate would reflect the B.C. Consumer Price Index, with the first increase taking place this September, with a raise from $10.25 per hour, to $10.45.

"It will provide certainty for business in British Columbia, it will also provide certainty for employees in the province," she said.

Bond confirmed that if the CPI rate drops across the year, the minimum wage would remain at the previous year's rate.

The minimum wage for servers will rise from $9.00 per hour to $9.20, Bond said, staying lower than the regular minimum wage because of tips.

"I think the government's announcement was pathetic and inadequate. It won't deal with the hundreds of thousands of people who work full time and live in poverty," B.C. Federation of Labour president Irene Lanziger responded.

She said the government's decision would keep people in poverty, even those working full-time.

The rise is nowhere near the $15 per hour being called for by the federation.

Lanziger said that at this rate, it will take until 2034 for the minimum wage in B.C. to reach $15 per hour.

NDP MLA Shane Simpson said the marginal increase is a slap in the face for those making minimum wage.

"The 20 cents doesn't even deal with the loss in buying power people have [suffered]," he said.

Most minimum wage earners work in retail or service industries.

Shelley Klassen owns Designs Blushing Boutiques and pays her staff more than minimum wage. She says the move could be good news.

"I think it could actually benefit my business," she said. "For the big box stores it could increase their prices and encourage people to shop local."

Compared to the rest of Canada, B.C. will remain as one of the worst payers, with only Alberta and Saskatchewan's minimum wages lower once the September raise takes effect.

"We are seeing a growing gap between rich and poor and a lot of poverty in British Columbia," Lanzinger said last fall.

"We lead the country in poverty and that is terrible and so the minimum wage will counteract that to some degree if we raise it to $15."

With files from Richard Zussman


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