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Labour group demands hike in minimum wage in B.C.

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

“I think we can all agree that good jobs mean someone who works a full-time work week should be able to afford to raise a family.” — Jim Sinclair

The British Columbia Federation of Labour says the province needs to raise the minimum wage to $13 an hour in order to bring low-income earners above the poverty line.

The organization representing unions across B.C. was in Victoria Tuesday to ask the wage be raised. President Jim Sinclair said the federation asked for the wage to be increased to $10 an hour in 2004.

Ten years later the wage is $10.25.

“If you’re at $13 an hour you’re at the level of the poverty line, it means you can pay your bills as a single person and survive,” Sinclair said. “We think the minimum wage should start from there.”

He said that over the years there’s been a cycle of minimum wage freezes in the province. He wants Victoria to also increase the wage with inflation and hold a consultation with stakeholders to discuss the wage each year.

“The vast majority of the people earning this way are not teenagers,” Sinclair said. “They’re women often supporting the families themselves as single parents.”

According to Stats Canada, in 2009 more than 80% of those earning minimum wage were either under 25 or women aged 25 to 54.

The federation also said the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has been preventing young people from getting jobs, criticizing the government for allowing fast food restaurants to use it.

The federation will meet with Premier Christy Clark Wednesday to discuss the wage.

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