February 8, 2018 7:03 pm
Updated: February 8, 2018 9:57 pm

‘It’s a tough pill to swallow’: Penticton small business owner decries minimum wage hike


A Penticton small business owner said the looming minimum wage increase to $15.20 an hour by June 2021 is a “tough pill to swallow.”

Diana Stirling is the owner of the LocoLanding Adventure Park and Peach Ice Cream ShoP.

They are tourism-related businesses that rely on minimum wage workers.

READ MORE: B.C. to raise minimum wage to $15.20 an hour by June 2021

“ Every expense matters for any business, especially small and medium sized ones,” said Stirling.

WATCH BELOW: Mixed reaction in the Okanagan to minimum wage boost

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Stirling said payroll is her biggest expense and Thursday’s announcement means a 16 per cent increase over this time last year and a 40 per cent increase by 2021.

“There’s only two ways to recover this: we either decrease our staff (hire less, cut hours, automate) or transfer this cost to our customers by increasing our prices,” she said.

READ MORE: NDP confirms plan to increase minimum wage in B.C.

“Quite simply, this move places too much of a burden, too quickly on small business owners.”

But the Okanagan Regional Organizer of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition says the minimum wage increases don’t come fast enough.

“The cost of living has gone up exponentially and wages have not kept pace with inflation and the cost of living,” says Christine Mettler. “So that means people living in poverty will continue to live in poverty for at least the next three years.”

The Penticton Chamber said in a statement that it appreciates the predictability of the minimum wage increases and that although this year’s increase is large, the schedule of increases will allow businesses to make plans to adapt to the annual increases for the next few years.

“It’s important that employees in our province earn enough to live on, and we’re hopeful that the minimum wage will settle on a reasonable balance between employee living expenses and business profitability. Future governments should keep this balance in mind, and ensure minimum wage increases are linked with the Consumer Price Index. This will ensure businesses can make plans with confidence, while maintaining the purchasing power of employees’ wages,” said president Neil Wyper.

Premier John Horgan announced Thursday morning that the province has decided to make increases every year on June 1 after reviewing recommendations from the Fair Wages Commission.

The first increase will come on June 1, 2018, when the current minimum wage will go from $11.35 per hour to $12.65 per hour.

The province will then revisit the wage each year before the June increase to ensure it is keeping on target.

WATCH BELOW: Minimum wage inquiry gets Okanagan input

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