Premier John Horgan and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman answer questions about the Alberta dispute during a press conference at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday February 7, 2018.
400,000 workers, or 20 percent of workers in B.C., now earn less than $15 an hour.
Premier John Horgan announced today that B.C. will adopt a $15-an-hour minimum wage by June 2021, after that amount was recommended by the Fair Wages Commission.
Poverty advocates and labour leaders said the timeline is too slow, when low-wage workers need help now. After the election, with the support of the Green Party, the NDP government appointed a Fair Wages Commission to advise it on raising the minimum wage and dropped the deadline.
The Fair Wages Commission, which was established last Fall, recommended the minimum wage rise by an additional $1.20 next year, tapering to a 75 cent raise in 2020, and between 60 and 80 cents in 2021 depending on the province's economic situation.
"It's long overdue that British Columbia workers be on the same pay scale as workers in other provinces like Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec".
The wage is now $11.35 and will rise every June until 2021. Next week's throne speech will talk about other measures, including child care and housing affordability, he said.
"Predictability and certainty allows businesses to plan and ensure they are prepared for these changes", he said.
Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman said the wage hikes over three years are too quick and she had asked the commission for a five-year implementation to give businesses time to adjust and for all future increases to be indexed to the Consumer Price Index.
"Let's be clear that achieving a $15 per hour minimum wage is an accomplishment and better than anything the previous B.C. Liberal government would have done to address poverty wages and inequality", BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger said.
"But making 500,000 low paid workers who now make less than $15 wait until June 1, 2021 to climb above poverty wage rates is not fair".
The province is attempting to avoid similar criticism to what the Ontario government received when it jacked up the hourly rate on January 1, 2018 from $11.60 to $14 per hour.
"There are many small businesses that this will impact in terms of their labour costs and if they have difficulty passing on those costs to customers, then it could be a real impact to them - many of those who do not earn a lot of money themselves", he said. "I am especially concerned that this may be the straw that breaks some of them".
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