British Columbia’s minimum wage increasing to $16.75

Click to play video: 'What B.C.’s increasing minimum wage could mean for consumers'
What B.C.’s increasing minimum wage could mean for consumers
WATCH: B.C.'s minimum wage has gone up, now one of the highest in the country. And while the pay bump is being welcomed by workers, some businesses say the added costs are unsustainable and could be passed on to consumers. Erin Ubels reports – Jun 1, 2023

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will soon be getting a raise. Minimum wage is set to increase by more than a dollar on Thursday.

But the change means prices could go up too as restaurants and retailers try to offset the additional cost.

The hike will make the B.C. minimum wage the second highest in the country, only trailing Yukon by a few cents.

“It’s a tough move on top of all the other things that we’re dealing with right now in our industry,” said Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association.

Click to play video: 'B.C. minimum wage increasing on June 1st'
B.C. minimum wage increasing on June 1st

“Our two major costs in a restaurant are labour and food. Our labour costs are about to go up by almost seven per cent as of June 1st.”

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Over the last six years, wages have gone up by over four dollars in the province and by the end of the week, it will go from $15.65 an hour to $16.75.

This is following the government’s commitment last year to tie minimum wage to inflation.

In Kelowna, businesses have already been bracing for the minimum wage hike. However, they don’t believe the increase will do much for workers.

“When you hear politicians say well this is going to help the poor, give them a hand up actually it’s not going to do anything because at the end of the day, everything’s going to go up in price,” said local business owner Amarjit Singh Lalli.

Click to play video: 'How businesses feel about B.C.’s minimum wage going up in June'
How businesses feel about B.C.’s minimum wage going up in June

The BC Restaurant and Food Services Association says this could put restaurants in a tough position.

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“You have two choices: first of all, you’ve got to try and make some profit and a lot of restaurants are not. You put your prices up — that’s a risk, and if you start reducing your labour expense then you run the risk of not providing great service. So there’s a real balance between that,” said Tostenson.

Lalli says the wage increase will offset inflation-related costs for now, but hopes the government explores other options.

Click to play video: 'Restaurant challenges continue'
Restaurant challenges continue

“My employees can’t find places to stay and it’s really challenging. A different way as opposed to just increasing the minimum wage — because, you know, when it comes to votes, it’s kind of a nice catchphrase like, ‘Hey we just increased the minimum wage’ but in actual reality, it doesn’t do anything,” Lalli said.

The government says the wage increase on Thursday will affect nearly 150,000 workers in the province.


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