British Columbia will follow in the footsteps of both Alberta and Ontario in implementing a plan to raise the minimum hourly wage to $15 per hour, the provincial government announced Thursday.
Currently, B.C.’s minimum wage is $11.35 an hour. This will be increased in stages beginning June 1, when it will rise by $1.30 to $12.65. Additional increases will come into effect on June 1 of the next three years. By June 2021, it will reach $15.20.
“Regular, predictable increases to our minimum wage are one important way we can make life more affordable for people,” Premium John Horgan said. “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 planned increases are:
- June 1, 2018: up $1.30 to $12.65 per hour;
- June 1, 2019: up $1.20 to $13.85;
- June 1, 2020: up $0.75 to $14.60; and
- June 21, 2021: up $0.60 to $15.20.
The move has already drawn criticism from the business community.
Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, said the planned increases are set to happen too quickly.
“When I presented our position to the provincially appointed minimum wage commission, the Surrey Board of Trade asked for two items: a five-year implementation, to give our small businesses time to adjust to increases, and for all future increases to be indexed to the Consumer Price Index to ensure stability and certainty.
“Our small businesses, especially those in the service sector, are vulnerable to increasing costs from various sources. I am especially concerned that this may be the straw that breaks some of them.”
Huberman pointed out that businesses are already feeling strained from recent federal tax changes and payroll increases.
According to the provincial government, 94,000 B.C. workers will earn a higher wage this year as a result of this increase, and 400,000 will see a benefit by 2021.
Alberta is wrapping up a four-year staged minimum wage increase that began in 2015. It will reach $15 in October this year. Ontario plans to increase its hourly wage to $15 by January 2019.