B.C. now has lowest minimum wage in Canada
Published Tuesday, September 1, 2009 7:01PM PDT
British Columbia has a new distinction to add to its list of accomplishments: the province with the lowest minimum wage in Canada.
With New Brunswick boosting its minimum wage to $8.25 Tuesday, B.C. now is at the bottom of the pack with an $8.00 an-hour wage.
The province froze the minimum wage in 2001, but employers have the right to pay workers with no previous experience a $6 an hour training wage for their first 500 hours.
A group of young workers from the B.C. Federation of Labour rallied in front of the provincial legislature Monday, calling the freeze an embarrassment.
"We're constantly told B.C. is the best place on earth but that isn't the case for young workers in our province," Jeff Parker, Co-Chair of the B.C. Federation of Labour's Young Worker Committee, said.
"Instead of best place, it's last place, when it comes to minimum wage. Whether it's housing and transit costs or tuition fees, the cost of living for young workers increases every year, and it's an embarrassment that our minimum wage hasn't kept up."
The federation says nearly 60,000 people earned $8 an hour in B.C. last year, with another 293,000 earning less than $10 an hour.
The group is spearheading a campaign to raise the minimum wage to $10.
Nunavut has the highest minimum wage in Canada, at $10.00 an hour. Here is the list of minimum wages across Canada, as of September 1, 2009:
- British Columbia: $8.00
- Alberta: $8.80
- Manitoba: $8.75
- New Brunswick: $8.25
- Newfoundland: $9.00
- Northwest Territories: $8.25
- Nova Scotia: $8.60
- Nunavut: $10.00
- Ontario: $9.50
- Prince Edward Island: $8.20
- Quebec: $9.00
- Saskatchewan: $9.25
- Yukon: $8.89
The issue of raising the minimum wage was a polarizing issue during the May provincial election, with NDP Leader Carole James promising to raise the wage if her party took power.
"Hard work deserves to be rewarded we will increase minimum wage," James said at the time. She also promised tax cuts for small businesses to help offset the increased payroll expenses, "and recognize the contribution they make to our province."
The Liberal party maintained the plan would cost B.C. taxpayers more than just higher payrolls.
"With Ms. James' plan 50,000 jobs will disappear from small business overnight," Campbell said during the campaign.
"I haven't heard a small business person in the province say 'please add $450 million to small business costs'."
At the time, University of British Columbia professor Dr. Mark Thompson doubted Campbell's assertion 50,000 jobs would be cut in B.C. because of a wage hike.
"Usually there's a slight advantage to the workers as a group by having the higher wages -- more than offsetting the loss of jobs," Thompson said.