Premier John Horgan, along with Labour Minister Harry Bains, announced the increase Thursday morning at a coffee shop in North Vancouver. It was also a campaign pledge by NDP. In a report delivered to government in January 2018, following public consultations and receipt of research and submissions, the commission recommended four minimum wage increases over four years. "That's not fair and it's not right", Horgan said. "We're taking the recommendations of the Fair Wages Commission".
BC's minimum wage now sits at $11.35 an hour, following a 50-cent hike last September. "$15 minimum wage was a commitment we ran on in our last election".
Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, said the planned increases are set to happen too quickly.
Horgan said the minimum wage will rise to $12.60 this June and will continue to rise every June until it hits $15.20. "I am especially concerned that this may be the straw that breaks some of them", she said. "We are disappointed in the timeline". Yet, B.C.is a low-wage province and average wages are below the national average. "To ask them to wait three years to be lifted above the poverty line, actually more than three years, is really just not fair in our view".
The Fair Wages Commission was established in October 2017 as an arm's-length government body to determine how B.C. should achieve a $15-an-hour minimum wage. "The Liberals, there was no clear path to 15".
The government says that the commission concluded that increases to minimum wage should be "front-loaded". "The fact is it's good for the economy to raise the wages of low wage workers".
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On the other hand, the B.C. Federation of Labour, which has long advocated for a $15-an-hour minimum, called the phased increases "disappointing".
It is, however, short of the living wage of $20.62 in Vancouver, Ivanova said.
"I would say to those workers that help is on the way", Mr. Horgan said, explaining that there are measures coming in this month's budget to address the housing and rent needs of British Columbians.
"All these things combined with minimum wage increases are going to help the working poor", she said.
According to the province, over 20 per cent of all workers in B.C. earn less than $15 an hour.
"But making 500,000 low-paid workers who now make less than $15 wait until June 1, 2021, to climb above poverty wage rates is not fair", Ms. Lanzinger said. A lower minimum wage rate exists for liquor servers because they can earn tips on top of their regular pay.