The B.C. government’s announcement to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour is good news for low-wage workers in B.C. but the long timeline will continue to keep workers in poverty for too long.
Following the recommendations from the first Fair Wages Commission report, the government will increase the minimum wage incrementally until reaching $15.20 in 2021.
“B.C. has the highest working poverty rate in Canada so increasing the minimum wage is part of rebuilding the economic security of British Columbians and tackling rising inequality but the 420,000 people currently earning less than $15 will still be struggling for years,” says Trish Garner, Community Organizer of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. “It’s simply unacceptable to leave people in poverty yet we continue to do so.”
The Fair Wages Commission report itself states that no one among the presenting employers “felt that it was possible to live on the minimum wage.” Workers and community advocates presenting to the Commission brought that reality to life with stories of the hardships and the impacts on worker’s health, family, and community.
The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition has been calling for an increase to $15/hour by January 2019 in partnership with the BC Federation of Labour, the Living Wage for Families Campaign, and many others.
Other provinces are moving more quickly with Alberta on a timeline to reach $15 this year and Ontario set to get to $15 in 2019.
“We can and need to do more here in B.C. Without the increase to $15 this year or next, we need to see strong action in B.C.’s poverty reduction plan to bring down the cost of living. We look forward to seeing significant investments in housing and childcare in the upcoming budget, and then more in the poverty reduction plan,” continues Garner.
The provincial government is currently holding community consultations throughout B.C. for the development of the poverty reduction plan.