The B.C. government says it is reviewing the minimum wage increase and expects to announce the increase this spring, with the new rate coming into effect on Sept. 15.
The minimum wage is $10.45/hour, second lowest in the country. Last year, when the government announced a hike from $10.25 to $10.45, they said the minimum wage would annually rise with inflation.
However, it’s believed that because of B.C.’s economic growth, projected to be the highest in the country this year, Jobs Minister Shirley Bond will review the 2016 hike, and it will not be tied to inflation.
“Given our stronger economic growth, we feel there should be room for a modest incremental adjustment beyond B.C.’s CPI so that all workers can benefit from our success,” said Bond in a statement.
The exact size of the minimum wage increase was not announced; but is expected to be in the range of 30 cents.
That would put British Columbia’s minimum wage at $10.75/hour, tied for fourth highest among Canada’s provinces. In a statement on Friday, Bond said, “in setting the minimum wage rate, we have always been clear: ‘we want to strike a balance’. The balance is between making sure all British Columbians can share in our province’s success while not impeding businesses’ ability to grow.”
Bond has met with small several business leaders in recent weeks – but a full consultation with labour and industry groups, similar to what happened prior to last year’s minimum wage hike decision, is not expected.
Advocates for raising the minimum wage welcomed the news, but say it doesn’t do enough to combat poverty, or the high cost of living in British Columbia.
“It would be lovely if we were also in the middle of the pack in terms of expenses that families face. We’re one of the most expensive provinces in Canada,” said Deanna Ogle of the Living Wage for Families Campaign.
“Therefore, we should have a higher minimum wage that reflects those expenses families face.”
– With files from Keith Baldrey