Study considers use of piece rates in B.C.’s agricultural sector

AS part of its ongoing work to ensure working people earn a fair wage, the Province has released a study on the economic impact of piece rates in British Columbia.

The study, undertaken by Karen Taylor, University of British Columbia agricultural economist, focuses on B.C. farmers’ use of piece rates and provides data about the economic impact and use of piece rates in various crops.

This study was informed by historical data, as well as input from farm workers who hand-harvest crops, growers and industry experts, which Taylor collected in 2018.

Government retained Taylor to conduct an in-depth study of B.C.’s piece-rate system after a report on alternative minimum wages from the Fair Wages Commission revealed significant gaps in information on this sector. Taylor’s report is the first B.C.-specific review of how piece rates have been used in the province for several years.

With 15 categories for different crops, including apples, cherries, peas and blueberries, B.C. is unique among Canadian provinces. Most jurisdictions have no regulated piece rates, and Quebec has only two piece-rate categories. B.C.’s system is based on a 1981 report that laid out what the piece rate should be for each crop so that a “skilled and diligent” worker could earn the minimum hourly wage picking that crop.

The ministries of Labour and Agriculture are working jointly to review the data in Taylor’s report and will carefully consider the next steps to best serve workers, farmers and the viability of the agriculture industry.

Taking a thorough, thoughtful approach to reviewing the study’s findings reflects government’s interest in developing policy and improving services that make life better for all British Columbians.

The minimum piece rates for B.C. farm workers increased by 11.5% on Jan. 1, 2019. Further increases or changes to piece rates will be informed by Taylor’s study.

Delivering strategies to increase wages for B.C.’s lowest earners is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Learn More:

To read Taylor’s study, Exploring the Economic Impact of the Piece Rate System in B.C., visit:

For a list B.C.’s piece-rate categories and more information on employment standards for farm workers, visit: