British Columbia

B.C. to boost minimum wage by 50 cents to $11.35

The B.C. NDP is adopting the previous government's promise to increase the minimum wage by 50 cents to $11.35 per hour by Sept. 15, 2017.

Government also commits to raising minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2021

Labour Minister Harry Bains announced Tuesday the province will raise the minimum wage by 50 cents by September 2017. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

The B.C. NDP is following up on the previous government's promise to increase the minimum wage by 50 cents to $11.35 per hour, effective Sept. 15, 2017. 

Labour Minister Harry Bains made the announcement Tuesday.

"The 50 cents increase was a commitment made by the previous government that we as the new government will honour and legally implement, thereby creating a stepping stone towards our $15-an-hour goal," said Bains. 

The liquor servers' wage will also rise by 50 cents to $10.10 per hour, while other minimum wage provisions will receive increases of 4.6 per cent.

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains says the province still plans to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021 but how it gets there is up to a commission. (CBC)

Barring changes from any other provinces, this increase will give B.C. the third highest minimum wage among the provinces, moving up from seventh.

Canada's highest minimum wage is held by Nunavut at $13, while the lowest is Saskatchewan at $10.72. 

In a statement, Premier John Horgan said the increase is long overdue. 

"British Columbia's lowest-paid workers need a raise," said Horgan. "The action we're taking will make life better for working parents, seniors, new Canadians, students and more — these are people struggling to get by."

Bains says the NDP government still plans to meet its campaign promise of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2021.

Alberta has promised to raise its minimum wage to $15 by October 2018, while Ontario plans to follow suit in January 2019. 

Irene Lanzinger, the president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, is calling for a minimum wage of $15 per hour well before 2021. (Irene Lanzinger)

B.C. Federation of Labour president, Irene Lanzinger says the NDP's 2021 deadline is too late and insists the province should keep up with Alberta and Ontario. 

"$11.35 will not lift a single worker out of poverty. Hundreds of thousands of workers will still be working full time and living in poverty, said Lanzinger.

"We really need to get to 15, because that is the wage that gets you just slightly above the poverty line. And then we need to talk about how we actually have a minimum wage that is a living wage."

Fair wages commission

Bains says a fair wages commission will meet in a couple weeks and embark on a consultation process with stakeholders to determine how the wage will incrementally increase to $15.

"We've listened to business owners, who have told us gradual, predictable increases are the way to go to minimize the impact on their businesses," said Bains.

The B.C. Liberal government had said previously it would tie the increase in the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index. 

Bains says the commission is expected to report back on its decision by late December or early January.

The government of B.C. says there were 93,800 people who earned minimum wage in the province in 2016, 54 per cent of whom were youths aged 15 to 24. 


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