Minimum wage increases are positive and realistic, says Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA

Increments part of provincial government’s affordability strategy

British Columbia’s minimum wage increase that took effect on June 1 is one incremental step toward a $15 per hour rate by 2021.

The province’s general hourly minimum wage increased to $13.85 from $12.65, and the minimum wage rates for liquor servers, resident caretakers and live-in camp leaders also increased.

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Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons said BC’s minimum wage comes in at about the middle of minimum wages in Canada.

“One of our commitments was to try and address the fact that it hadn’t been raised in such a long time,” said Simons. “Because of that, we needed to make more regular incremental increases.”

As part of the government’s affordability strategy, Simons believes this will make a positive impact on people earning the minimum wage, who despite what people think, are not just students and young people in their first jobs. He said for people with families who are working for minimum wage, the increase is a positive step for them.

Simons said the incremental increases the government has set for raising the minimum wage are positive and realistic.

“I’m glad that it’s being phased in,” said Simons. “It’s gradual but it is also geared toward getting in line with what the minimum wage should be.

“Ultimately, it’s the goal to have a fair system where people are compensated appropriately for the work that they do, and that we don’t continually require people to live and work full time and live under the poverty line. This is part of our strategy to reduce poverty.”

Powell River Chamber of Commerce president Telis Savvaidis said he thinks governments need to take a look at the cost of living for people, especially in this community, with two-bedroom apartments going for $1,400 to $1,700.

“It’s not affordable for people to live here,” said Savvaidis.

“When you go into a grocery store and have to pay almost $3 a kilogram for tomatoes, the prices have become too inflated. People need to eat and they need to access good, affordable food. It’s really hard for people to get ahead right now.”

According to Savvaidis, the increase in minimum wage is going to assist but governments need to look at how to make living more affordable.

“The price of gas is skyrocketing,” said Savvaidis. “We are paying something like 60 cents a litre in taxes and that’s ridiculous. What is that tax for? We need to take a good hard look at how to help people. It’s about making sure that people can actually afford to live.”

Effective June 1:

  • general minimum wage increased 9.5 per cent to $13.85 per hour, an increase of $1.20 per hour

  • liquor server minimum wage increased 11.4 per cent to $12.70 per hour, an increase of $1.30 per hour

  • resident caretaker minimum wage, per month, increased 9.5 per cent to $831.45 for those who manage nine to 60 units (plus $33.32/unit), or $2,832.11 for 61 or more units

  • live-in camp leader minimum wage, per day, increased 9.5 per cent to $110.87

These wage increases for BC’s lowest paid workers are the second of four annual increases that will take place on June 1 of each year. Last year, the general minimum wage increased from $11.35.

The minimum piece rates for those who hand-harvest crops increased by 11.5 per cent in January 2019.

These increases are the result of recommendations from the independent Fair Wages Commission, established in 2017 to advise government on an approach to raising provincial minimum wages with increases that are regular, measured and predictable. By June 2021, BC’s general minimum wage will reach at least $15.20 per hour and the lower liquor server wage will be eliminated.

Establishing a pathway to a minimum wage of at least $15 per hour is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the two parties.

For anyone who has questions about their rights as an employee or obligations as an employer, help is available in more than 130 languages through the Employment Standards Branch multilingual phone service at 1.833.236.3700.

Copyright © Powell River Peak


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