B.C. to boost minimum wage to $10.25
Published Wednesday, March 16, 2011 5:09PM PDT
After a decade of being frozen at $8, British Columbia will raise its minimum wage to $10.25, Premier Christy Clark announced Wednesday.
Clark says minimum wage will raise in increments, starting with a 75-cent hike in May. It will reach $10.25 by May 2012.
At $8 an hour -- and just $6 for new workers -- B.C.'s minimum wage was the lowest in the country.
This is the new premier's first big announcement since being sworn in on Monday.
"Raising the minimum wage and eliminating the training wage is a fair and reasonable step forward in putting families first and building our economy," Clark said.
The $6 training wage will be eliminated by May 1, Clark says, and employees will be entitled to earn the higher minimum wage regardless of how long they've been in the labour force.
A special lower minimum wage for liquor servers will be phased in May 1.
Similar to Ontario's server wage, it will be used for anyone who serves liquor directly in licensed premises.
Last month, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce warned that raising the minimum wage would impact low income workers, the very people it is intended to help.
"Hours of work are probably going to be the most critical area. If business have to face a 25-per-cent increase in costs, that's likely how they'll respond -- by cutting back on the number of hours they employ people," Chamber of Commerce CEO John Winter told CTV News.
Clark says moving the minimum wage up in increments will help businesses cope with the change.
"Businesses told us they needed time to adjust to increases in the minimum wage and we're pleased we've been able to provide that certainty to them through three predictable stages," she said.
Shane Simpson, the opposition NDP's critic for social development, said that the government was "finally shamed and embarrassed" into raising the minimum wage.
"It's long overdue. We've been calling for this for the better part of 10 years," he said.
He said that the increase is a step in the right direction, but blasted the incremental approach to raising wages.
"It's not enough. It's not sufficient. It's not addressing the concerns of the working poor in this province," Simpson said.
"British Columbia will still have the lowest minimum wage in Canada after that increase on May 1."
B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair expressed mixed feelings about the wage increase.
"A minimum wage increase is long overdue, and it's unfortunate B.C.'s lowest paid workers had to wait 10 years for any increase," he said in a release. "$8.75 is a poor start."
Sinclair called the lower minimum wage for servers "abusive" and pointed out that servers are often asked to pay for theft and dine-and-dash robberies.
"If the BC Liberals want to introduce a tip wage, they should first enforce employment standards, poor as they are."