B.C. minimum wage rises 40 cents today to $10.85 an hour

Pay raise for 120,000 B.C. workers criticized as too small as labour, NDP push for $15 minimum

Minimum wage workers now get $10.85 an hour in B.C.

More than 120,000 B.C. workers get a raise today as the B.C. government hikes the minimum wage from $10.45 to $10.85 per hour.

An increase of just 10 cents had been scheduled under the BC Liberal government’s previous plan of following a cost-of-living formula.

But Premier Christy Clark announced in May the increase would be boosted to 40 cents and indicated a similar lift will come next fall.

BC NDP leader John Horgan has committed to a $15 minimum wage, which is also the target of a campaign led by the B.C. Federation of Labour and is expected to be a key issue for New Democrats in next spring’s provincial election.

MORE ON THIS ISSUE:The bare minimum: B.C. election lines drawn over minimum wageB.C. NDP commits to $15 minimum wageBC VIEWS: Premier Red Green’s fast fixes

The labour federation says the latest 40-cent increase does little to reduce inequality in B.C., while a $15 an hour minimum wage would help lift 500,000 B.C. workers – one in four – out of poverty.

“Small minimum wage increases— like the one we’re seeing today—only perpetuate working poverty,” said Iglika Ivanova, senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“The majority of low-wage workers work full time, and nearly a third have been in the same job for over three years. We’re not talking about teenagers or casual workers—these are adults struggling to make ends meet with poverty-level wages in one of the most expensive provinces in Canada.”

B.C. previously had the lowest minimum wage in Canada, but the latest increase places it eighth lowest relative to other provinces and territories.

But critics of significant minimum wage hikes point to the strain it could put on businesses and suggest it could hurt as many people as it helps.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business warned minimum wage increases can prompt businesses to cut jobs or hours, raise prices or delay expansion plans.

“The knee-jerk impulse to force employers to pay higher wages for entry-level jobs may make the politicians feel like they are doing something, but it may actually do more harm than good.,” said CFIB B.C. vice-president Richard Truscott. “When you add that to a potential CPP payroll tax increase, it’s easy to see why many small businesses are seriously worried.”

The B.C. formula discounts the minimum wage by $1.25 for restaurant and pub servers, to reflect the income they receive from tips.

Meanwhile, the province is also shelving planned hikes to Medical Services Plan premiums, which were to jump four per cent next year. Rates for MSP will stay at $75 per month for an adult earning more than $30,000 a year, and will go down for people on premium assistance.

Just Posted

VIDEO: LEGO fundraiser builds playground purse

Inspired families built LEGO creations, helped Silver Creek build playground

Sunshine Valley songbird releases EP

Fifteen-year-old Ashley Pater has been singing and performing since age 9

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

Hope stylist holds hair-athon for a good cause

Shayla Ross donating all proceeds of $10 cuts to the food bank

Hope arena turns green for hockey tourney

A second attempt at green ice, with proper ice paint, after food colouring experiment last year

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

B.C. cyclist races to first win of the season in New Zealand

Casey Brown captures Enduro title by more than two minutes at Crankworx Rotorua

Horse found stuck in muddy field rescued in Maple Ridge

Maple Ridge firefighters set up a pulley system to drag the horse to solid ground

VIDEO: Two Maple Ridge contortionists have sights set on Cirque

The Pair competed at the Viva festival in Vegas and are now auditioning for spot on America’s Got Talent

Notorious Russian troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

Targets included oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during Florida show

Longtime performer fell while performing in VOLTA

Canada earns second Paralympic Games silver in 20 years

Held 1-0 lead in para hockey game from 12:06 of first to dying seconds of third and lost in overtime

Most Read