B.C. minimum wage getting another boost this September

B.C.’s minimum wage will get an extra bump in September because of improved economic growth, Jobs Minister Shirley Bond announced

  • Mar. 29, 2016 4:00 p.m.

Barry Coulter

B.C.’s minimum wage will get an extra bump in September because of improved economic growth, Jobs Minister Shirley Bond announced on Friday.

The new rate will be announced later this spring, and it will go beyond the current annual increase based on the federal Consumer Price Index. That formula already added 20 cents to the hourly minimum wage last September, bringing it to $10.45 an hour. The rate for restaurant and pub servers, discounted due to tip income, went up from $9 to $9.20.

David D. Hull, Executive Director of the Cranbrook said generally in general the Chamber views the move as positive.

“There’s always a concern that when you raise the minimum wage and you push from the bottom up, you put pressure on those lower or mid-range salaries,” Hull said. “CEOs aren’t going to demand a raise because the minimum wage went up, but the shift supervisor, somewhere where they have a lot of minimum wage workers might say ‘Hey, their wage went up 50 cents so I should get a bump up too.'”

Hull added that there’s a lot of misconception when it comes to minimum wage.

“The people who are in poverty and such, the minimum wage isn’t the issue. The Fraser Institute, for example, recently noted that 88 per cent of the people making the minimum wage are not living in households, and nearly 60 per cent of them are teenagers or young adults — working jobs where you’re not expected to be living on the wage.”

As well, there is a need for B.C. to be competitive in all aspects, including our wages. “If we want to attract people, besides looking at the red tape and all the other things on the other side of the business ledger, we have to look at the people and the wages.

“Because we’re in competition not only with the rest of Canada but the rest of the world these days.”

Hull said that there is a school of thought that says wages and the miminum wage should be set by a “free float,” determined by market forces, though that’s “a bit of a utopian dream. But certainly at the Chamber of Commerce we are concerned that wages don’t get set artificially in regards to the economy and what makes sense in the real world.

“Having said that, I think this proposed rise won’t have that effect, that it won’t be the death knell for creating commerce, and can be seen as a positive overall.”

Bond issued a statement Friday saying the new rate will be announced this spring, and it will go beyond the current annual increase based on the federal Consumer Price Index.

“The scheduled increase, based on this year’s B.C. CPI, does not reflect the economic circumstances of the province,” Bond said.

The formula added 20 cents to the hourly minimum wage last September, bringing it to $10.45 an hour. The rate for restaurant and pub servers, discounted due to tip income, went up from $9 to $9.20.

The B.C. Federation of Labour, which led a “10 bucks sucks” campaign to promote an increase that took effect in 2010, is now calling for a $15 minimum wage.

Using the CPI formula, it might take until 2034 for to reach $15, the federation says.

Hull said that at this point in time, that much of a raise would have a negative effect on business.

With files from Tom Fletcher