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BC gets first raise to minimum wage in a decade

British Columbia's minimum wage will rise on May 1 for the first time in a decade, Premier Christy Clark announced today.

The cabinet approved a rise to $8.75 an hour on May 1, to $9.50 on Nov. 1, and to $10.25 on May 1, 2012.

"Many people from lower income families are finding it harder than ever to keep up," said Clark, who ran for Liberal leader on a families first platform.

"Wages for workers must keep pace with the challenges average British Columbians face," she said. "At the same time, our government recognizes that businesses deserve stability and predictability and an opportunity to adjust to change."

She called the raise "long overdue" and an important first step.

In 2001, B.C. had the highest minimum wage in Canada, but now has the lowest. By November B.C. will have the fourth highest minimum wage in the country, Clark said.

Clark also announced the province is eliminating the $6 an hour training wage that Gordon Campbell's Liberal government introduced in 2001, and is introducing an alcohol server wage that will be above the current minimum but will only rise to $9 an hour in 2012.

The government arrived at the increase through consultations with the Business Council of B.C., the B.C. Federation of Labour and the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, said Stephanie Cadieux, the minister of labour, citizens' services and open government. There will be similar consultations every two years, starting in the summer of 2012, she said.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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