Minimum wage going up June 1



Premier John Horgan addresses the crowd at the B.C. Natural Resources Forum Wednesday. Bill Phillips photo
Premier John Horgan.

B.C.’s minimum wage will be $15-an-hour by June 2021, Premier John Horgan announced today, endorsing the recommendations of the Fair Wages Commission.

“Regular, predictable increases to our minimum wage are one important way we can make life more affordable for people,” said Horgan, in a news release. “For too long, the lowest-paid workers in our province have been left to fall behind, with their wages frozen for a decade at a time. That’s not fair and it’s not right. Like all British Columbians, our lowest-paid workers deserve a fair shake and a fair wage.”

The plan to reach $15 an hour provides for an immediate increase of $1.30 an hour on June 1, 2018, to a new minimum wage of $12.65 an hour. Additional increases will take place on June 1 of each year for three more years. By June 2021, B.C.’s minimum wage will rise to at least $15.20 an hour.

The next wage increase, on June 1, 2018, will benefit 94,000 minimum-wage earners, while increasing the minimum wage to over $15 an hour on June 1, 2021, will benefit 400,000 workers throughout the province. The commission’s scaled approach will allow businesses and employers to plan for predictable and stable increases to wages over time.

“Freezing the minimum wage for 10 years hurt people, and then increasing it in a sporadic and unplanned way hurt businesses. We are taking a balanced approach that will work better for everyone, by bringing in measured and predictable increases over time,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “I’m thankful for the incredible work done by the members of the Fair Wages Commission, who worked together to come up with a fair path forward.”

That move is being supported by the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

“Predictability and certainty are what’s on our members’ minds,” said Val Litwin, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “While front-loading the minimum wage increase will cause challenges for some businesses, the four-year timeline – with projected increases – will help businesses plan and incorporate those costs into their budgets.”

The BC Chamber appreciates the work done by the Fair Wages Commission, he said, as well as the opportunity to share insights from chamber members on the potential economic impact of a large-scale wage increase.

The BC Chamber’s province-wide membership has previously called for minimum wage increases to be linked to the Consumer Price Index, so as to bring stability and predictability to these increases and thus to protect B.C. businesses from the fallout of sudden, unexpected hikes.

“We support wage increases so employees can keep up with the cost of living,” said Litwin. “We also support increases being announced in advance to ensure businesses are able to adjust. Tying wage increases to CPI going forward provides businesses with the ability to plan and budget, and ensures they will not face large increases in labour costs”

The Fair Wages Commission was established in October 2017 as an arm’s-length government body to help guide public engagement on how B.C. should achieve a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and also the timeline for implementation. In a report delivered to government in January 2018, following public consultations and receipt of research and submissions, the commission recommended four minimum wage increases over four years.

The Fair Wages Commission recommended the following schedule of increases:

  • June 1, 2018: $12.65 an hour ($1.30 increase)
  • June 1, 2019: $13.85 ($1.20 increase)
  • June 1, 2020: $14.60 ($0.75 increase)
  • June 1, 2021: $15.20 ($0.60 increase)

Depending on economic conditions, the commission recommended that government consider of an additional hourly increase of up to $.20, to $15.40 an hour in 2021.