Surrey MLA and Minister of Labour Harry Bains says putting more money in workers’ pockets means “more money to spend and support our local economy.”
“It’s good for everyone in our province,” the Surrey-Newton NDP MLA said, speaking to his government’s plan to increase the minimum wage, by increments, to $15.20 an hour in 2021.
“Hard work deserves fair reward,” Bains said. “People should not have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet, or rely on food banks to feed their families. Right now, 400,000 people in our province are struggling to get by, while getting paid less than $15 an hour. This has left too many people just one step away from homelessness, despite working hard for a living. That’s unfair, and its bad for our communities.”
The provincial government is acting on the Fair Wages Commission’s recommendations to increase the minimum wage by $1.30 to $12.65 per hour by June 1, to $13.85 by June 1, 2019, to $14.60 by June 1, 2020 and to $15.20 by June 1, 2021. The current minimum wage is $11.35 an hour. More than 20 per cent of all workers in B.C. earn less than $15 an hour.
While the increases are good news for those earning minimum wage, the Surrey Board of Trade says it’s too much, too quick.
“When I presented our position to the provincially appointed minimum wage commission, the Surrey Board of Trade asked for two items,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of the board. “A five year implementation, to give our small businesses time to adjust to increases, and, for all future increases to be indexed to the Consumer Price Index to ensure stability and certainty.
“Our small businesses, especially those in the service sector, are vulnerable to increasing costs from various sources,” Huberman said. “I am especially concerned that this may be the straw that breaks some of them. The cost of living is a major concern for our members as employees need to be able to thrive in the community. However, too big a jump may possibly lose some of them their jobs as employers try to balance their books as a result of these jumps. I hope that other strategies of offsetting cost of living expenses will be implemented.”