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NDP hopeful pitches $12 an hour minimum wage

The minimum wage should be raised to $12 an hour by the end of 2012, said British Columbia New Democratic Party leadership candidate Nicholas Simons.

“It's based on the principle of fairness,” said Simons. “Our minimum wage should reflect what it costs to live in our communities.”

The B.C. Liberal government has kept the minimum wage at $8 an hour since 2001. The B.C. Federation of Labour and the NDP have in recent years supported raising the amount to $10 an hour.

Simons says adopting a $12 an hour rate would allow someone working full time hours to earn enough to cross the poverty line, as defined by the low income cut off measure. It's unfair to have a legislated wage that falls below the poverty line, he said.

“It's a bold call, but it's important to be based on a principle,” said Simons, who acknowledges there would need to be discussions on how to mitigate the impact of the increase in some sectors of the economy. “We're catching up because we're way behind.”

Once the minimum wage is at the poverty line it should increase every six months at the same rate as inflation, he said.

As leader Simons would bring the proposal to the NDP to be adopted as the party's position.

Simons said politics should be about protecting the public interest and building a sustainable province, and paying people fairly is part of that. “I'll be rolling out other policies on livable wage and the like over the next three months,” he said.

The NDP leadership vote is set for April 17.

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

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