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Liquor servers and others who earn BC 'alternate' minimum wages to get a raise

Last Updated Apr 19, 2018 at 12:27 pm PDT

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Summary

Province says minimum wage for liquor services will be eliminated by June 1, 2021

BC Restaurant and Food Services Association says there won't be sticker shock due to minimum wage for liquor servers

BC Federation of Labour applauds province's move, calling alternate minimum wage for liquor servers 'discriminatory'

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Liquor servers who earn minimum wage in BC will be getting a raise in the next couple of months.

It’s one of several annual hikes to the “alternate” minimum wage that is applied to those workers. The province says the liquor server wage will be eliminated by 2021 (see breakdown below).

Ian Tostenson with the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association says there’s no doubt raising server wages will add further costs to businesses. But he argues the industry can be creative enough that you shouldn’t see any major spike in prices.

“Labour accounts for 30 to 35 per cent of the cost of a business. It doesn’t flow through in the exact proportions. If it goes up 10 per cent, it’s not like you’re going to see a 10 per cent increase in prices.”

Tostenson says many managers will look for other ways to cut costs.

“Reduce your energy… reduce your overall costs like credit card processing,” he lists as examples. “Employee costs, trying to streamline their scheduling operations — all those things can make a real difference in operations.”

“I want to stress the fact that people aren’t going to feel a sticker shock… in restaurants,” he adds. In fact, some restaurants may elect not to even change their prices. So, I think you’ve just got to take this, move forward, and know that we’re paying our workers well.”

The BC Federation of Labour is applauding the move, calling lower wages for liquor servers “discriminatory.”

“I am relieved that we can say good-bye to the server wage in BC,” says president Irene Lanzinger in a news release. “Make no mistake, the server wage is a sexist policy that puts women at risk. It has no place in a fair and balanced economy.”

Other workers who will see a minimum wage increase are resident caretakers and live-in camp leaders, who will see an 11.5 per cent bump this June, followed by further increases over the next three years.

The province says live-in home-support workers will no longer be subject to an alternate minimum wage; they will have to be paid the general minimum wage or more.

This move was one of the recommendations from the Fair Wages Commission.

“We need to bring some justice and equity in that field by having… those workers also paid equally as all other workers in the industry,” says Labour Minister Harry Bains.

“Also, they heard from workers that they may not even work in serving liquor — they may be working in other parts of the restaurant but they are getting the liquor server rate,” he adds.

Breakdown of the changes, as announced by the province:

  • Liquor servers: incremental increases on June 1 each year, beginning June 2018, until the general minimum wage is reached, of at least $15.20 per hour, in 2021.
    • June 1, 2018: $1.30 increase to $11.40 per hour
    • June 1, 2019: $1.30 increase to $12.70 per hour
    • June 1, 2020: $1.25 increase to $13.95 per hour
    • June 1, 2021: $1.25 increase to $15.20 per hour
  • Piece-rate farm workers: 11.5% increase to all piece rates on Jan. 1, 2019, with further study to take place.
  • Resident caretakers: 11.5% increase June 2018, followed by increases of 9.5%, 5.4% and 4.1% in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively (wages vary depending on building size).
    • June 1, 2018: Minimum wage, per month, to increase 11.5% to $759.32 for those that manage 9-60 units (+ 30.43/unit), or $2,586.40, for 61 or more units
    • June 1, 2019: Minimum wage, per month, to increase 9.5% to $831.45 for those that manage 9-60 units (+ 33.32/unit), or $2,832.11, for 61 or more units
    • June 1, 2020: Minimum wage, per month, to increase 5.4% to $876.35 for those that manage 9-60 units (+ 35.12/unit), or $2,985.04, for 61 or more units
    • June 1, 2021: Minimum wage, per month, to increase 4.1% to $912.28 for those that manage 9-60 units (+ 36.56/unit), or $3,107.42, for 61 or more units
  • Live-in camp leaders: same per cent increases as resident caretakers, until they reach $121.65/per day, in 2021.
    • June 1, 2018: Minimum wage, per day, to increase 11.5% to $101.24
    • June 1, 2019: Minimum wage, per day, to increase 9.5% to $110.87
    • June 1, 2020: Minimum wage, per day, to increase 5.4% to $116.86
    • June 1, 2021: Minimum wage, per day to increase 4.1% to $121.65
  • Live-in home-support workers: Abolishment of the alternate minimum wage. The general minimum wage will apply to any workers remaining in this category.