The NDP confirmed Tuesday that the minimum wage in British Columbia will increase to $11.35 an hour beginning Sept. 15, the first step to an eventual hike to $15 per hour.
In February, the B.C. Liberal government announced plans to raise the minimum wage in B.C. by 50 cents to $11.35 this fall. The hourly wage for liquor servers will go from $9.60 to $10.10.
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New Labour minister Harry Bains said that the New Democrats plan to honour that pledge.
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The minimum wage will be subject to incremental increases over time, Bains said.
The province aims to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021.
“The cost of living is going up in British Columbia and wages have been stagnant,” Bains said.
“We’re trying to narrow the gap between the cost of living and the minimum wage.”
Bains said a fair wage commission will be established to plan how to raise the rate without hurting businesses.
Irene Lanzinger, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, said next month’s 50-cent increase is a good first step, but more needs to be done.
“This is still a poverty wage,” she said. “We still have hundreds of thousands of people working full-time and living in poverty. We are looking forward to the fair wage commission and the pathway to a $15 minimum wage.”
Alberta will be the first province to offer $15 per hour when the rate increases next year, while Ontario plans to reach that rate in 2019.
The NDP had campaigned to increase the minimum wage in B.C. to $15 per hour, and in forming government, agreed with the Green party to set up a commission that would oversee regular rate reviews.
– With files from The Canadian Press