B.C.’s minimum wage going up May 1

Premier Christy Clark and Labour Minister Stephanie Cadieux announce minimum wage increases at the B.C. legislature Wednesday.

B.C.’s minimum wage is going up from $8 an hour to $8.75 on May 1, with two more increases by next year.

Premier Christy Clark made the announcement Wednesday after her first cabinet meeting. She called it a “long overdue first step” in a province where the minimum wage hasn’t changed in a decade and is the lowest in Canada. When fully implemented, the pay of a minimum wage worker will increase by about $4,000 a year.

The general hourly minimum wage rate rises to $8.75 on May 1, to $9.50 on Nov. 1 and to $10.25 on May 1, 2012. The $6 an hour training wage is also being eliminated this May 1.

A lower minimum will be set for restaurant and bar employees who serve alcohol: $8.50 an hour on May 1, $8.75 on Nov. 1 and $9 on May 1, 2012. Clark said that measure is similar to the minimum wage system in Ontario, and it reflects the tips earned by alcohol servers.

“People who serve alcohol for a living will in many cases be earning more from their tips than they do from their wages,” Clark said.

NDP critic Shane Simpson said the initial increase will still leave B.C. with the lowest minimum wage in the country. The NDP and the B.C. Federation of Labour have been campaigning for an immediate increase to $10 an hour.

“We know that even at $10.25, it will still be below the low-income cutoff for poverty rates in this province, so it’s still going to be a challenge,” Simpson said.

Clark denied that raising the minimum wage will cost jobs in the B.C. economy.

“Less than three per cent of the population works at minimum wage,” Clark said. “It’s about 41,000 people, and a good portion of that will be working in an alcohol server jobs. So I don’t think it will cost jobs.”

Business representatives disagreed.

“The research is clear that minimum wage hikes put entry-level jobs in jeopardy,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Chair of the Coalition of BC Businesses. “Employers on tight margins will have to roll back hours or hold off new hires due to increased payroll costs as well as expectations for cascading wage hikes for non-minimum wage employees.”

Labour Minister Stephanie Cadieux said the decision to phase in the increase was made after detailed consultation with business and labour representatives, begun last fall. The ministry will review the situation every two years to see if further changes need to be made, Cadieux said.

Just Posted

Palumbo nets win in KIJHL debut with Golden Rockets

Female goalie believed to be league’s first to play a full game and win

Mt. Begbie Brewing opens new tasting room

Following a record breaking year and a number of awards, Mt. Begbie Brewing opens a new tasting room

Mamas for Mamas founder survives with new lease on life

Kelowna’s Shannon Christensen escaped a dangerous situation and lived to tell about it

BC Liberal leadership hopeful Michael Lee stops in Revelstoke

Lee’s visit comes less than a week before the BC Liberal’s final leadership debate

Accused Shuswap drug smuggler pleads not guilty in U.S. court

Colin Martin continues to fight allegations relating to cross-border drug smuggling operation

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington on Vancouver Island

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, vehicles buried under more than three feet of snow

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

PHOTOS: Revy Stomp transforms community centre

On Saturday night the Selkirk Saddle Club proved it’s far more than just a one-trick pony

Coquihalla drivers prepare for snow

Wintry conditions persist, with snow warnings for Coquihalla

Tychonik continues scoring run

Vees chalk up another win with Pink in the Rink

PHOTOS: Rail Jam at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

On Saturday night RMR held a killer rail jam at the base of the ski hill

Most Read