Chamber on minimum wage
Okanagan Edge Staff - Feb 09, 2018 - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed
Tom Dyas

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is expressing tepid approval for the provincial government’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15.20 by 2021.

Chamber president Tom Dyas said in a statement the chamber is “generally glad to hear the announcement that any increases to the minimum wage will be phased in over time.”

The government announced this week it will raise B.C.’s minimum wage by $1.30 an hour on June 1, bringing it to $12.65 an hour.

Additional raises will happen each June, over the next three years, until the rate eventually reaches $15.20 by 2021.

Dyas said the chamber appreciates “that the government listened to the concerns of small businesses so far–especially in the service sector–and has not instituted dramatic hikes.”

“I want to repeat the facts: the vast majority of workers making minimum wage work in the service sector and, of those, over 50 per cent are youth living in their family home. Only 7 per cent of minimum wage workers are heads of families,” he added.

The picture looked slightly different to the BC Federation of Labour, which pointed out that about half a million BC workers, or 25 per cent of the province’s labour force, earns “poverty level wages—less than $15 per hour.”

“Some 60 per cent of low wage workers are women. Eighty percent are adults. And one in seven holds a post-secondary degree,” the federation said.

The province has estimated its minimum wage increases will impact approximately 94,000 workers.

The BC Federation of Labour said it’s “pleased” to see minimum wage getting a boost, but “disappointed that the Horgan government’s planned implementation timeline will see low wage workers wait three-plus years to reach it.”

“Let’s be clear that achieving a $15 per hour minimum wage is an accomplishment and better than anything the previous BC Liberal government would have done to address poverty wages and inequality,” said the federation’s president, Irene Lanzinger. “But making 500,000 low-paid workers…wait until 2021 to climb above poverty wage rates is not fair.”

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