The increases have benefited close to 400,000 British Columbians over those years, the majority of whom are women, immigrants and youth
ON June 1, B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will get a pay boost, with the general minimum wage increasing from $15.20 to $15.65 an hour.
The Province is following through on a 2020 commitment to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour through measured, predictable increases, and then tie future increases to the rate of inflation. B.C.’s minimum wage is now the highest of all Canadian provinces.
“B.C. had one of the lowest minimum wages in the country prior to 2017, but was one of the most expensive places to live,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “We do not want our lowest-paid workers to fall behind. The minimum wage increases tied to inflation are part of our plan to build an economy that works for everyone.”
The government says it is committed to making life more affordable and the StrongerBC plan charts the way forward. Over the past five years, B.C.’s general minimum wage has increased from $11.35 to $15.65 per hour. The increases have benefited close to 400,000 British Columbians over those years, the majority of whom are women, immigrants and youth.
The upcoming minimum wage increase to $15.65 an hour is the first one to be tied to British Columbia’s average annual inflation rate. This year’s rate is 2.8% and was calculated from January 1 to December 31, 2021. This is consistent with the approach taken in other jurisdictions where minimum wage is tied to inflation.
As of June 1, an increase of 2.8% will also apply to the live-in camp leader and live-in home support worker minimum daily wages; and resident caretaker minimum monthly wage.
As well, effective January 1, 2023, an increase of 2.8% will apply to minimum piece rates for hand harvesting of 15 specified crops in the agricultural sector, including: peaches, apricots, Brussels sprouts, daffodils, mushrooms, apples, beans, blueberries, cherries, grapes, pears, peas, prune plums, raspberries, and strawberries.
Philip Aguirre, owner, Old Surrey Restaurant, Surrey, says: “As a small business owner, I see the positive impacts of a decent minimum wage, and I’m fully supportive of reasonable and predictable increases. Providing wages that meet their needs and respect their contribution to the business, my staff are happier, more productive and stay longer.”
Agnes Estimo, long-time cleaner at the Metropolis at Metrotown shopping mall, Burnaby, notes: “The increases to the minimum wage over the past few years have made a huge difference to me and my family. I appreciate very much these timely changes, considering the inflation happening, but it also makes me feel valued and appreciated.”
MEANWHILE, BCFED Secretary-Treasurer Sussanne Skidmore, while welcoming the tying of this year’s provincial minimum wage increase to the rate of inflation, said too many workers are still excluded from minimum wage protection.
“It’s long past time to eliminate the hand-harvesting piece-work rate for farmworkers, a key recommendation of the Fair Wages Commission,” Skidmore said. “And employers are still ducking minimum wage rules and other employment standards by misclassifying thousands of gig and precarious workers as contractors.”
She added that the minimum wage is still well below a living wage, the amount a family needs to cover basic expenses. “Every worker should be able to earn a wage that makes their community affordable and liveable, no matter where they live in BC,” she said.
- In 2021, 6% of employees in B.C. (136,300) earned minimum wage or less.
- In 2021, 52% of employees earning minimum wage or less were over the age of 25 and 58% were women.