BC is hiking its minimum wage in just over a week, but it still is nowhere near the living wage for parts of the province.
Before the upcoming hike, the province already had the highest minimum wage in Canada of all provinces, excluding territories.
The minimum wage is set to jump from $15.65 to $16.75 per hour on June 1, but it falls well short of a living wage in Metro Vancouver, which is $24.08 per hour.
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The June 1 hike represents a 6.9% increase in the minimum wage and BC says it reflects the province’s annual inflation rate in 2022.
“Having a minimum wage that keeps up with inflation is a key step to prevent the lowest-paid workers from falling behind,” said BC Minister of Labour Harry Bains when the hike was announced.
While BC suggests it’s a step to keeping lower-paid workers from falling behind, some would argue it’s not doing enough to help those people.
“In a province as diverse as BC, communities differ when it comes to their cost of living. For example, while some communities may have lower housing or child care costs, others may have lower-cost public transit or easier access to goods and services,” says the organization Living Wage for Families BC.
The organization argues that wage increases should be a regional calculation.
“No matter where they live, families should be able to afford a decent life. There are jobs that need to be done in every community, and therefore people need homes, services, and a good quality of life in every community. A regional calculation allows communities to identify policy advocacy that would address poverty in their community.”
Is the hike a bad thing?
On the other side of the conversation, some would argue that even increasing the minimum wage to next week’s level is too much.
CEO of BCRFA Ian Tostenson warns this raise will not only be noticed by the restaurant industry but by customers as well.
“We have to be very careful at our price increases because who wants to pay for a $30 hamburger?” he told Daily Hive.
He also fears job losses.
“The fact is there’s going to be some difficult decisions for employers now whether they increase their payroll for everybody… or they make selective adjustments.”
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business in BC has also raised concerns.
Today, the BC government announced a 6.9% increase to the minimum wage with no cost relief measures for businesses. For a small business with 10 minimum wage employees, this new increase will add nearly $20,000 of additional payroll costs. (1/3) 🧵
— CFIB BC (@cfibBC) April 5, 2023
Do you think the BC government is doing enough regarding the minimum wage, or should it strive to get even closer to a living wage?
With files from Nikitha Martins