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Hiking the minimum wage doesn't help people out of poverty, says controversial policy group

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Raising the minimum wage helps workers on the low end of the scale — that’s what we’ve always been told. But does it?

A policy group known for its controversial research says hiking the minimum wage actually hurts the very people the move is meant to help.

Charles Lammam with the right-leaning Fraser Institute claims according to his research, the poor aren’t making the bare minimum.

“Most minimum wage earners tend not to be the working poor. In British Columbia… it’s a little over 84 per cent.”

He says they’re mostly younger workers who still live at home, where the household income is anything but than minimum wage.

Lammam also argues increasing the minimum wage hurts workers by decreasing employment opportunities.

But Deanna Ogle with the Living Wage for Families Campaign says when BC’s minimum wage jumped from $8 to $10, “We didn’t actually see a significant decrease in employment at all.”

Ogle says hiking the rate — as the province is set to do on Friday — is significant.

“It can make the difference between being able to afford to get a bus pass in order to get to work and fill a prescription at the same time. It’s about making sure that folks are able to cover the cost of living.”

BC’s minimum wage is set to increase to $12.65 an hour on June 1st and to over $15 an hour in 2021.