VANCOUVER – The B.C. Federation of Labour (BCFED) is continuing its fight to get the general minimum wage in B.C. raised to $15 an hour.
The current minimum wage in B.C. is $10.25 an hour; for a liquor server and farm workers it is $9 an hour.
More than 17,000 people have signed an online petition to get the minimum wage raised, which is part of the Fight for $15 campaign launched last year. In January, the focus is on students and the minimum wage.
“We know that many students are struggling to put themselves through school and make ends meet on minimum wage jobs,” said Irene Lanzinger, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour. “Post-secondary graduates are leaving school with an average of $35,000 of debt. That is not good for our young people, and not good for the economy.”
According to the BCFED there are more than 120,000 people in B.C. earning the minimum wage. For those working full time at the current minimum wage, the BCFED said that person is still about $6,000 below the poverty line.
“So people are working full time and living in poverty,” said Lanzinger. “You actually have to earn between 13 and 14 dollars an hour to meet the poverty line.”
Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson said in the past he is supportive of raising the minimum wage. “It will be very important for addressing poverty in Vancouver, given how challenging it is to afford to live in our city,” he said.
“I hope to see the B.C. government take action swiftly and address the lag we have with minimum wage.”
In June, Ontario raised its minimum wage to $11 an hour, which is the highest in Canada, tied with Nunavut. In Alberta it is $10.20.
New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories have the lowest minimum wage in the country with $10 an hour.
In March, 2014, the BCFED lobbied to have the minimum wage raised to $13 an hour. “That $13 represents the poverty line and we believe that no government should tolerate a wage in British Columbia that when you go to work full-time, you’re not at the poverty line for a single person,” former B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair said in March.
Following those meetings, Premier Christy Clark said she was concerned that raising the minimum wage to $13 an hour could hurt job creation.
But now the BCFED would like to see that raised by two dollars more.
“There’s no evidence to show that there’s job loss when you raise the minimum wage,” said Lanzinger. “We raised the minimum wage from $8 to $10.25 an hour, more than two years ago since there’s been a wage, and employment went up. The fact is, it’s good for the economy when people go from $10.25 to $15 an hour because people spend their money.”
WATCH: Fight to raise B.C.’s minimum wage:
The Fight for $15 Campaign will be signing petitions today and leafleting at:
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