The B.C. government is boosting its next scheduled increase in the minimum wage to 40 cents, bringing it to $10.85 per hour on Sept. 15.
Premier Christy Clark said Wednesday the increase is above the consumer price index formula increase of 10 cents, to share economic growth and “create a fairer, more just society.”
Another 30 cent boost to the formula is scheduled for September 2017. Assuming the cost of living formula adds 10 cents, the minimum wage would be $11.25, which Clark said will make B.C.’s rate the third highest in the country.
NDP labour critic Shane Simpson said this year’s increase brings B.C.’s minimum wage to seventh place among Canadian provinces, tied with Yukon.
“What the premier did today was a response to being embarrassed by the fact that we were last,” Simpson said.
Clark acknowledged that the formula has seen B.C.’s rate fall behind. The first formula increase was 20 cents in September 2015.
The B.C. formula discounts the minimum wage by $1.25 for restaurant and pub servers, to reflect the income they receive from tips.
The B.C. Federation of Labour has been campaigning for a $15 minimum wage. It has estimated that based on the B.C. formula, it would take until 2034 to reach that level.
Simpson said the minimum wage will be an issue in the 2017 election, and the NDP will propose a wage higher than what Clark and Jobs Minister Shirley Bond announced Wednesday.
“I don’t necessarily want $15,” Simpson said. “What I want is an understanding of what it takes for somebody on minimum wage to be able to have a modest standard of living.”
Clark also announced an additional $2.88 million in training programs to respond to labour shortages. Most of the federal-provincial program will go towards job training up to $15,000 for employers who hire an unemployed person.