British Columbia

Bar and restaurant workers to get minimum wage hike in B.C.

"No one working for minimum wage, full-time, year-round should be living in poverty," said Labour Minister Harry Bains.

'No one working for minimum wage, full-time, year-round should be living in poverty,' says labour minister

A margarita sits on a bar in the foreground, while behind it, a bartender uses a cocktail shaker. In the background are bottles on a shelf and other out-of-focus bar accoutrements.
The current minimum wage for workers who serve alcohol in B.C. is $10.10 per hour. (CBC)

The B.C. government is phasing out the alternative minimum wage for workers who serve alcohol, Minister of Labour Harry Bains announced Thursday.

The incremental increases will begin on June 1, 2018 and continue each year until the general minimum wage of at least $15.20 per hour is reached in 2021. The current rate for liquor servers is $10.10 in B.C.

Other workers who earn an alternative minimum wage — including piece-rate farm workers, resident caretakers and live-in camp leaders — will also get a raise.

"No one working for minimum wage, full-time, year-round should be living in poverty," Bains said in statement released Thursday morning.

"Workers deserve a minimum level of protection so that, regardless of a person's job description, they don't earn a wage that is distinctly less than the general minimum wage."

The changes are based on the recommendations of the Fair Wage Commission, which was appointed last year to look at raising the minimum age in B.C. Earlier this year the government announced that the general minimum wage would rise to $15.20 by 2021.

Workers who serve alcohol in B.C. will earn the same minimum wage as others by 2021. (Toby Talbot/Associated Press)

While most of the wage increases will start June 1, 2018, farm workers earning a piece rate will have to wait until Jan. 1, 2019 for their wage increase.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said in a written statement that government is extending the transition period for changes to farm worker piece rates to balance the needs of workers and those of the agriculture industry.

"This is a critical industry for B.C. and we want to make sure any changes made help give it the strong, sustainable future it deserves," Popham said. "We believe everyone who contributes to this industry should have their say as we move toward making wages fair and life more affordable for farm workers."

Changes will vary by industry

According to the statement, wages for the five worker groups currently subject to alternate minimum wage rates will change as follows:

  • Liquor servers: Incremental increases on June 1 each year, beginning June 2018, until the general minimum wage is reached, of at least $15.20 per hour, in 2021.
  • Piece-rate farm workers: 11.5 per cent increase to all piece rates on Jan. 1, 2019, with further study to take place.
  • Resident caretakers: 11.5 per cent increase June 2018, followed by increases of 9.5 per cent, 5.4 per cent and 4.1 per cent in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively (wages vary depending on building size).
  • Live-in camp leaders: Same per cent increases as resident caretakers, until they reach $121.65 per day in 2021.
  • Live-in home-support workers: Abolishment of the alternate minimum wage for this group, as it covers very few or no workers. The general minimum wage will apply to any workers remaining in this category.

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