B.C. sets sights on $15-an-hour minimum wage, reaffirms commitment to a fair wages commission

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 2:15 PM

The provincial government is making its first move toward a $15-an-hour minimum wage for British Columbia by announcing a 50-cent increase for September and renewing its commitment to a fair wages commission.

In making the announcement today, Premier John Horgan said moving over time to a $15 minimum wage is long overdue in making life more affordable for British Columbians.

“British Columbia’s lowest-paid workers need a raise,” Premier Horgan said. “The action we’re taking will make life better for working parents, seniors, new Canadians, students and more — these are people struggling to get by.”

Effective Sept. 15, 2017, minimum-wage earners will see their pay increase to $11.35 per hour from $10.85 per hour, giving B.C. the third-highest minimum wage among Canada’s provinces — up from seventh position.

“Today’s increase and our commitment to the $15 minimum wage will benefit almost 100,000 British Columbians who have been getting by on one of the lowest minimum wages in the country,” said Horgan, adding that 62% of minimum-wage earners are women.

Labour Minister Harry Bains said details around a fair wages commission’s composition and terms of reference will be announced in the coming weeks, but that its overarching objective is to get British Columbia to $15 along a planned, responsible path.

The commission will submit its first report within 90 days of its first meeting.

“We’ve listened to business owners, who have told us gradual, predictable increases are the way to go to minimize the impact on their businesses,” Bains said. “And they recognize that the move to a $15 minimum wage is good for retention for their businesses, and good for the B.C. economy.”

At the same time as the general minimum-wage increase, the liquor servers’ wage is also rising by 50 cents to $10.10 per hour.

Other minimum-wage provisions in the employment standards regulation will also receive increases in line with the general minimum-wage increase of 4.6%.

This includes the daily rate for live-in home support workers and live-in camp leaders, as well as the monthly rates for resident caretakers and the minimum farm worker piece rates for harvesters of certain fruits and vegetables.

Quick Facts:

  • In 2016, the percentage of employees earning minimum wage in British Columbia was 4.8%.
  • The national average for the percentage of people earning minimum wage last year was 6.9%.
  • The number of British Columbia employees earning minimum wage in 2016 was 93,800 out of a total of 1,958,600 paid employees (excluding self-employed).
    • The following is a breakdown of the 93,800 who earned minimum wage in B.C. in 2016:
    • 50,600, or 54%, were youth aged 15 to 24 years
    • 13,100, or 14%, were aged 55 years or older
    • 57,700, or 62%, were female
    • 23,900, or 25%, did not have high school graduation
    • 12,200, or 13%, had a university degree

Learn More:

For more information on finding jobs, exploring career options and improving skills, visit WorkBC’s website: https://www.workbc.ca/

Resources for workers and employers are available on the Employment Standards Branch website: http://www.gov.bc.ca/EmploymentStandards/

B.C. Labour Market Outlook: www.workbc.ca/Labour-Market-Information/B-C-s-Economy/Reports.aspx

A backgrounder follows.

Contract Story


Quotes regarding minimum wage increase
Irene Lanzinger, president, BC Federation of Labour –

“A fair minimum wage will be good for working families and good for the economy of B.C. We look forward to working with the B.C. government as we advocate for better wages, including increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour as soon as possible.

We need to remember that the minimum wage in B.C. was frozen for 10 years by the previous government, and as a result many low-wage workers have suffered just trying to keep their heads above water.”

Mark von Schellwitz, vice-president, Western Canada, Restaurants Canada –

“Restaurants Canada supports reasonable minimum wage increases that ensure our employees keep up with the cost of living, are announced well in advance to give businesses time to adjust, and do not trigger large menu price increases or a reduction in entry-level employment.

Restaurants Canada is pleased that the new government is proceeding with the previously announced 50 cents-an-hour minimum-wage increases that small businesses have been preparing for.

We look forward to working with the new government on future minimum-wage increases that raise wages without costing entry-level employment opportunities.”


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