BC to raise minimum wage to $15.20 an hour by June 2021

Premier John Horgan answers questions about the Alberta dispute during a press conference at the Legislature in Victoria B.C. on Wednesday

Patrick Stafford-Smith, chief executive officer of the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, said the business community was expecting the minimum wage hikes but he hopes that it's not a case of "keeping up with the Joneses".

By June 2021, B.C.'s minimum wage will rise to at least $15.20 an hour.

The NDP government endorsed recommendations from the Fair Wages Commission (FWC).

Premier John Horgan said the raise "is long overdue" and added "British Columbia workers will be on the same pay scale as workers in other provinces like Ontario, Alberta and Quebec". The increases will be $1.30 this year, $1.20 in 2019 and less than a dollar in the following two years. This commission should be empowered with the explicit mandate of analyzing the impacts of minimum wage increases and recommending changes going forward based on evidence. "We are disappointed in the timeline".

"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". "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 starting wage climbed from $11.60 to $14 an hour. "The Liberals, there was no clear path to 15".

Horgan said B.C.is making other changes to help businesses such as eliminating the provincial sales tax on electricity by 2019.

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The Fair Wages Commission was established in October 2017 as an arm's-length government body to help guide public engagement on how B.C. should achieve a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and also the timeline for implementation. 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.

She says 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".

It is, however, short of the living wage of $20.62 in Vancouver, Ivanova said.

The next wage increase, on June 1, 2018, will benefit 94,000 minimum-wage earners, while increasing the minimum wage to over $15 an hour on June 1, 2021, will benefit 400,000 workers throughout the province.

The current minimum wage is $11.35 an hour, and applies to 4.8% of employees in B.C.

Ian Tostenson, CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association, said wages are not the cause of understaffing. "It contributes directly to our promise to make life more affordable for British Columbians". Next week's throne speech will talk about other measures, including child care and housing affordability, he said.

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