BC to raise minimum wage to $15 by 2021

BC to raise minimum wage to $15 by 2021

The June 1 wage increase will benefit 94,000 minimum-wage earners, while increasing the minimum wage to over $15 an hour on June 1, 2021, will benefit 400,000 workers throughout the province.

BC Federation of Labour president Irene Lanzinger said she's disappointed it will take over three years to raise the minimum wage to $15.20 an hour, noting Alberta's increase is expected later this year and Ontario's in 2019.

The NDP campaigned on a promise to establish a commission tasked with finding a way to reach a minimum wage of $15 an hour or higher.

In 2019, B.C.'s lowest-paid workers will earn $13.85 an hour, $14.60 in 2020 and $15.20 the following year.

The current minimum wage is $11.35 an hour, and applies to 4.8% of employees in B.C.

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Premier John Horgan has announced that the province's minimum wage will rise by $1.30 an hour on June 1.

"When I presented our position to the provincially appointed minimum wage commission, the Surrey Board of Trade asked for two items: a five-year implementation, to give our small businesses time to adjust to increases, and for all future increases to be indexed to the Consumer Price Index to ensure stability and certainty".

"While front-loading the minimum-wage increase will cause challenges for some businesses, the four-year timeline, with projected increases, will help businesses plan and incorporate those costs into their budgets".

"But making 500,000 low paid workers who now make less than $15 wait until June 1, 2021 to climb above poverty wage rates is not fair". Additional increases will take place on June 1 of each year for three more years. "Our commitment was to get to $15 by 2021 and the Fair Wages Commission has put us onto that track", Horgan said. From 2001 to 2011, under premier Gordon Campbell, the minimum wage remained at $8 an hour.

"I would say to those workers that help is on the way", Mr. Horgan said, explaining that there are measures coming in this month's budget to address the housing and rent needs of British Columbians.

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Horgan said raising the minimum wage is one component of the government's plan to make life more affordable.

Lanzinger says the next phase in the fair wage process involves exemptions from minimum wage.

The province is attempting to avoid similar criticism to what the Ontario government received when it jacked up the hourly rate on January 1, 2018 from $11.60 to $14 per hour.

"Small businesses typically operate in competitive markets on very thin margins", Truscott said.

About half a million B.C. workers, or 25 per cent of the province's labour force, earn poverty level wages, which is considered less than $15 per hour. "This commission should be empowered with the explicit mandate of analyzing the impacts of minimum wage increases and recommending changes going forward based on evidence", he said, in a statement.

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