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11 February 2018, 01:17 | Austin Hogan
Gradual wage increase
"We believe that we have strong economic growth in British Columbia and the commission's rationale for front-end loading the increases was because we have a robust economy in British Columbia and the expectation is that's going to continue for the next two years", Horgan said.
"It's a big step to see the increases front loaded", she said, noting that by June 2019 the minimum wage will be $2.50 higher than it is today and close to $14 an hour.
Premier John Horgan announced Thursday morning that the province has chose to make increases every year on June 1 after reviewing recommendations from the Fair Wages Commission. Additional increases will take place on June 1 of each year for three more years. It will increase three more times each June thereafter to reach $15.20 on June 1, 2021.
The NDP government is hiking BC's minimum wage. Christy Clark announced an increase immediately after she formed government in 2011.
Horgan said B.C.is making other changes to help businesses such as eliminating the provincial sales tax on electricity by 2019. In 2015, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson pointedly called for the $15 wage, dubbing it an issue of affordability.
Ian Tostenson, CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association, said wages are not the cause of understaffing.
"It's long overdue that British Columbia workers be on the same pay scale as workers in other provinces like Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec".
Also, the government has plans ahead for child care as part of its commitment to a $10-per day program, among other areas, he said.
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"Regular, predictable increases to our minimum wage are one important way we can make life more affordable for people", said Horgan on Thursday.
The move has already drawn criticism from the business community.
The B.C. Chamber of Commerce agreed.
The province says the current minimum hourly wage applies to 4.8 per cent of B.C. employees and more than 20 per cent of all workers in the province bring in less than $15 an hour. In a report delivered to government in January 2018, following public consultations and receipt of research and submissions, the commission recommended four minimum wage increases over four years.
"Let's be clear that achieving a $15 per hour minimum wage is an accomplishment and better than anything the previous B.C. Liberal government would have done to address poverty wages and inequality", BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger said.
Lanzinger says about 60 per cent of low wage workers are women, and 80 per cent are adults.
The province will then revisit the wage each year before the June increase to ensure it is keeping on target.
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