B.C. government increases minimum wage

Critics call for concrete plan to address poverty

The minimum wage in British Columbia will increase by 50 cents to $11.35 an hour, effective Sept. 15, 2017, the provincial government announced February 27.

This amount is 10 cents higher than the $11.25-per-hour minimum wage the B.C. government had, in May 2016, said would go into effect in September of this year. In a news release, the government said the new rate includes a 20-cent increase tied to inflation plus an additional 30 cents; the government’s original plan had called for a 10-cent inflation-related bump.

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Liquor servers will also see their minimum wages increase by 50 cents per hour, to $10.10.

Irene Lanzinger, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, said the 10-cent-per-hour bump won’t go far to help lift low-wage workers out of poverty.

“The increase allows the Liberals to pretend they’re doing something about poverty, when they’re really not,” Lanzinger said.

“What we really need from government is a concrete plan to address poverty, low wages and rampant inequality in B.C.”

Lanzinger said it would take an increase to $15 per hour to lift 500,000 low-wage workers in the province out of poverty.

The minimum wage increased from $10.45 to $10.85 per hour in September 2016. This bump included a 10-cent increase tied to 2015’s inflation rate.

In 2016, 93,800 employees in B.C. were working for minimum wage, comprising 4.8 per cent of the total workforce of more than 1.95 million workers. In 2012, the percentage of those working for minimum wage was 7.5 per cent. The national average is 6.9 per cent.

Rates for live-in home support and camp leaders, caretakers and farm workers will also increase, but details of these increases will not be released until closer to the Sept. 15 effective date.

ecrawford@biv.com

@EmmaHampelBIV

For business news go to biv.com

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