Business Groups Respond to B.C.’s Minimum Wage Increase

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VANCOUVER — The B.C. government’s announcement to increase minimum wage and liquor server wage annually based on the Consumer Price Index is being met with some mixed feelings.

This year, the province’s general minimum hourly wage and liquor server wage will rise on Sept. 15 from $10.25 to $10.45 and from $9 to $9.20, respectively, based on an indexing formula that will be reassessed each year based on the Consumer Price Index. If the index goes down, the minimum wage will remain the same. “Small businesses told us they want the minimum wage increase to be reasonable and predictable, which is why we implemented a formula-based approach tied to economic indicators,” said Naomi Yamamoto, minister of State for Tourism and Small Business.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver-based B.C. Federation of Labour is voicing concern about the announcement and lobbying for a minimum wage hike to $15 per hour. “Lifting the minimum wage to $10.45 is nowhere close to the increase that is needed — and indexing a poverty wage only entrenches people in poverty,” said Irene Lanzinger, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour. “Under the government plan, the minimum wage will not reach $15/hr until 2034. That is unacceptable.”

Toronto-based Restaurants’ Canada has a slightly different stance. “The restaurant industry already struggles with intense cost pressures, and any bump in labour costs is challenging to absorb or pass on to customers,” said Mark von Schellwitz, VP, Western Canada. “However, Labour Minister Shirley Bond’s move to align the minimum wage increase with inflation provides employers with some degree of certainty. Slow and steady wins the race.”

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