VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Labour groups are welcoming a $1.20 increase to the minimum wage that kicks in on June 1.
The raise will bring B.C.’s $12.65 minimum wage up to $13.85, but not everyone is convinced it goes far enough. The increase will help our province’s lowest paid workers, says Laird Cronk, President of the BC Federation of Labour, but they’ll still be on poverty-level wages.
“It’s still not a living wage. Unfortunately in B.C. the minimum wage is really a poverty wage, but this a trend in the right direction, one of four increases that the Fair Wages Commission has recommended the government over a four year predictable period,” he says. “We need a broader dialogue around how we bridge the gap between minimum wage, which is really a poverty-level wage, and a living wage, where you can meet the necessities of life.”
This is the second of four annual increases that will take place on June 1 of each year, and while he doesn’t think it goes far enough, Cronk says it does help the local economy.
“Folks that have a little bit of an increase in their pocket on this increase and others, they’re not going with offshore investments, they’re not going with tax havens, they’re spending that money in their community so it’s actually good for the economy.”
Ian Tostenson with the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association has concerns about the increase in his industry.
“They don’t make enough profits, restaurants, to sort of absorb that, so you’ve got to either cut costs or you have got increase your prices. And we have seen price increases happen when the last increase came through.”
Tostenson says it could lead to reductions in hiring, with workers expected to do more.
“A restaurant could say to their server instead of you having a section of five tables, we now want you to have a section and manage seven tables. So you could see a slight reduction in hiring or more use of staff in more productive ways.”
He says his members will have tough choices to make.
“We have a restaurant group that has five restaurants and this increase in minimum wage as of June 1 is going to cost their five restaurants about $140,000 on top of the $50,000 they’re already paying with the health tax.”