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B.C. boosting minimum wage to $15.65 an hour, labour minister says

Minimum-wage workers across B.C. will soon see a pay boost of 45 cents more per hour, according to the province’s labour minister.

In an announcement Monday, Harry Bains said the general minimum wage will be raised to $15.65 an hour, effective June 1, 2022.

"The 45 cent increase is based on British Columbia's average annual inflation rate in 2021," said Bains. "At 2.8 per cent for the year, B.C.'s inflation in 2021 was the highest since 1993."

Along with changes to the general minimum wage, Bains also announced a 2.8 per cent increase to alternate minimum wages, for “live-in camp leaders, live-in home support and resident caretaker workers.”

"An increase of 2.8 per cent will also apply to minimum piece rates for hand harvesting of 15 specific crops in the agricultural sector," said Bains.

That includes peaches, apricots, brussels sprouts, daffodils, mushrooms, apples, beans, blueberries, cherries, grapes, pears, peas, prune plums, raspberries and strawberries.

The new wage for those workers will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.


The advocacy group Living Wage for Families BC estimates workers need to earn more than $20 an hour in both Victoria and Vancouver in order to have what's considered a living wage. That's the amount required to pay for adequate shelter, food and other necessities for a family of four.

Campaign director Anastasia French told CTV News the increase in minimum wage fell short of what families require to make ends meet. As a result, she said many need another 10 hours a week of work, typically through another job.

"That's time they could be spending with their families," she said.

French added through the pandemic, the province has doubled the number of employers committed to paying a living wage. She said the feedback, was that there was an economic benefit: many employers had happier workers and lower turnover, which meant fewer costs for training new staff.

At Fol Epi, owner Clif Leir echoed that sentiment. He added with inflation around five per cent, things were “changing quickly,” but his employees were all being paid a living wage.

Statistics Canada says the same basket of goods now costs 5.1 per cent more than it did a year ago.

Still, the B.C. government is defending its choice to use the average inflation rate for the past year, insisting that's how other provinces calculated inflation.

The B.C. Federation of Labour echoed the need for a living wage, in a press release.

While the union praised the increase, it added too many people weren't included. In a statement, president Susanne Skidmore wrote, “It’s long past time to eliminate the hand-harvesting piece-work rate for farmworkers, a key recommendation of the Fair Wages Commission. And employers are still ducking minimum wage rules and other employment standards by misclassifying thousands of gig and precarious workers as contractors.”

The Surrey Board of Trade also welcomed the move, saying it gave businesses the certainty they were looking for.

In an interview, CEO Anita Huberman added the high cost of living in the province necessitates a move in minimum wage, as she called on the government to also review the taxes businesses pay.

Huberman said the tax regime was cumbersome, and may have room for savings, adding red tape was also increasing costs.


Bains added that B.C.'s minimum wage is now the highest amongst Canadian provinces - as Nunavut workers earn $16 an hour.

"This is important for workers in our province, especially for the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers, many of whom have worked tirelessly during the pandemic and kept our grocery stores open and our supply chain moving," said Bains. "Having a fair minimum wage is a key step in our effort to lift people out of poverty, make life more affordable and to continue B.C.'s strong economic recovery.

Bains said the province is following through on a 2020 commitment to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour through measured increases and then tie future increases to the rate of inflation.

Last year, the province increased the minimum wage to $15.20 from $14.60. As well, the liquor server minimum wage of $13.95 an hour was replaced with the general minimum wage.

At the time the rates changed, the province said the wage specific to liquor servers disproportionally affected women.

According to the province, 52 per cent of employees earning a minimum wage or less in 2021 were over the age of 25 and 58 per cent were women.

A long-time cleaner at Metropolis at Metrotown said the increases to the minimum wage over the past few years have made a "huge difference" for her and her family.

"I appreciate very much these timely changes, considering the inflation happening," said Agnes Estimo. "But it also makes me feel valued and appreciated." Top Stories


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