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BC Minimum Wage Rising to $16.75 in June

Seven-per-cent increase keeps up with cost-of-living, says labour minister.

Andrew MacLeod 5 Apr 2023TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of All Together Healthy (Douglas & McIntyre, 2018). Find him on Twitter or reach him at .

B.C.’s minimum wage is increasing seven-per-cent to $16.75 on June 1 to match the rising cost of living, Labour Minister Harry Bains said today.

“We are not immune to global inflation,” Bains said during the announcement at a Victoria coffee shop. “When times are tough we need to make sure our lowest paid workers don’t fall further behind.”

The hourly rate is currently $15.65. The B.C. consumer price index rose by 6.9 per cent in 2022.

Bains said the government plans to introduce legislation to make it the law that future increases are tied to inflation, making it predictable for both workers and businesses.

“Our government will continue to build an economy that works for all British Columbians,” Bains said, noting that minimum wage increases are a key part of efforts to lift people out of poverty.

Marissa Iacobucci, a private liquor store employee who participated in the announcement, said that she received minimum wage until recently and workers like her deserve fair pay that they can survive on.

“Most of my co-workers live paycheque to paycheque and are struggling to pay for the necessities of living like rent, food and transportation,” she said. Many need to choose between paying rent or buying groceries, putting a strain on their mental health, she said.

The owner of 2% Jazz Coffee and host for the announcement, Sam Jones, said lifting the minimum wage helps small shops like his that already pay more than that compete with big corporations that prioritize profits over people.

The Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria reported that in 2022 a living wage in the region was $24.29 per hour.

The current minimum wage isn’t enough to meet people’s basic needs, said Jones. “There is still a long way to go.”

Bains said he has received a report from the Fair Wages Commission on closing the gap between the minimum wage and living wages and will have more to say about it soon.

Asked about businesses that may be struggling with rising costs, Bains said that many have been having a hard time attracting and retaining workers and that offering a higher wage will help.

Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation Minister Brenda Bailey said only 3.5 per cent of workers in the province were paid the minimum last year and most employers see the importance of paying a living wage.

There will be an announcement coming soon about further help for small businesses, she said.

The government says about 150,000 workers — many in food services, grocery stores and retail — now earn less than $16.75.

According to the Retail Council of Canada, B.C. already has the highest minimum wage among provinces. Only the Yukon territory, where the rate rose to $16.77 an hour on April 1, will have a higher minimum wage after B.C.’s increase.

Under the previous BC Liberal government the province’s minimum wage went from the highest in Canada in 2001 to the lowest and was frozen for a decade. After the NDP formed government in 2017 it struck the Fair Wages Commission that recommended a series of increases and indexing the wage to inflation.  [Tyee]

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