Tom Fletcher and Barry Coulter
B.C.’s minimum wage is going up by 20 cents in September, and will see annual increases to match the B.C. consumer price index each September after that.
It’s the first increase since 2012, when the current wage of $10.25 was set. Jobs Minister Shirley Bond said this year’s increase reflects what would have taken place if indexing to inflation had been in place at that time.
The Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce applauded Thursday’s announcement.
“Increases to the minimum wage have a very direct and demonstrable effect on business, especially small business,” said Chamber President Dave Struthers. “We commend the provincial government on implementing an increase to minimum wage in B.C. in a responsible manner.”
The lower minimum wage for restaurant and pub servers is being retained, going from $9 to $9.20 in September. The discount from the general minimum wage will remain at $1.25 per hour to account for tips earned by servers, Bond said.
Piece rates for seasonal piece workers are to receive proportional increases, as are day rates paid to live-in camp counsellors and residential caretakers at apartment buildings.
“The really salient portion of today’s announcement is the certainty that comes with a plan for future changes, giving businesses a window to plan and prepare,” said Chamber Executive Director David D. Hull.
“This move to a predictable pattern of increases will provide the degree of certainty that businesses appreciate. This increase keeps B.C. competitive and aligns us with the minimum wages seen in other provinces.”
B.C. is the last province in Canada to move to an automatic formula for setting the minimum wage. The annual increase will be announced each March based on the previous year’s consumer price index, and will take effect each September to give small businesses time to prepare.
In the case of negative inflation, which the province experienced briefly in recent years, the minimum wage would not be decreased.
Bond said she expects continued debate on the wage rate, led by the B.C. Federation of Labour, which is calling for an immediate increase to $15 an hour.
Naomi Yamamoto, B.C.’s minister of state for small business, said consultation with business was clear that employers want predictable increases, not large jumps. The September increase amounts to about two per cent, keeping B.C.’s minimum wage higher than Alberta and Saskatchewan’s $10.20 an hour.
Using a similar formula, Ontario’s minimum wage rose to $11 an hour last year.