A prominent Canadian economist is defending the upcoming hike in B.C.’s minimum wage, set to increase by $1.10 to $16.75 on June 1.
Jim Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work and formerly with the Canadian Auto Workers, said raising the minimum wage is a necessary response to inflation.
“The inflation we are experiencing now in B.C. is driven by profits, not wages,” Stanford said. “It is unfair to expect the most vulnerable workers to give up some of their non-discretionary income because of record high inflation. By ensuring fairer compensation for our lowest-paid workers, we will reduce inequality and foster a more inclusive society.”
According to the provincial government, the 6.9 per cent increase in the minimum wage rates reflects B.C.’s average annual inflation rate in 2022 with about 150,000 workers seeing their hourly wages rise.
Piece rates for pickers of 15 crops will also see their wages rise by the same percentage, but not until Jan. 1.
The scheduled increase comes amidst growing concerns about the rising cost of doing business in B.C. as expressed by voices such as the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.
GVBoT recently published a report, which accused the government of undermining the investment climate in B.C. through the addition of new taxes and other measures that add up to $6.5 billlion between 2022 and 2024.
These costs include increases to the Employer Health Tax, the carbon tax and corporate income tax.
“This represents an average of $2.15 billion per year,” it reads. “On top of those costs, other significant increases include a 21 per cent increase in the minimum wage (from 2019 to 2023), a nearly 10 per cent increase in the top personal tax rate, a new statutory holiday costing $200 million and the reversion back to the PST, which cost businesses an estimated $3.7 billion in 2022.”