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B.C. minimum wage raised — by 20 cents

By Jacob Zinn

Minister Shirley Bond.
(B.C. government photo)

Minister Shirley Bond. (B.C. government photo)

I’ve been very clear that our government is not moving to $15 an hour. — Labour Minister Shirley Bond

The minimum wage is going up in B.C., but it’s nowhere near the $15 per hour that unions and anti-poverty groups have been campaigning for.

Labour Minister Shirley Bond announced Thursday the minimum hourly wage will be raised by 20 cents to $10.45 in September, in line with the province’s consumer price index. Bond said the B.C. government chose to determine minimum wage increases using the CPI to minimize negative impacts to small businesses.

“British Columbia really stood alone in the ad hoc approach it took to dealing with the minimum wage in our province,” she said. “When I looked across the country, we were the only jurisdiction that did not use some systematic method to actually deal with the minimum wage.”

Bond added the current bump reflects inflation increases over the last three years, when minimum wage was last adjusted, and that increases are expected every September. If B.C. experiences negative inflation, the wage will not be reduced.

She also said the increase, while marginal, is offset by other B.C. government initiatives to address poverty.

“The minimum wage is one of the things that provides support to low-income workers in British Columbia, but there are a series of other things, including housing supplements and rental support.”

University of B.C. economics professor David Green said indexing the minimum wage is a good idea, but said larger increases need to be made to address decades of financial inequality.

“We’ve always kept it somewhere in a range of 40 to 45% of the mean wage,” he said. “Obviously, that’s not been enough to have much of an impact.

“We should be moving the minimum wage up enough to try to actually affect inequality.”

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