MLAs support B.C. minimum wage boost

Finance committee report calls on province to increase minimum wage in 2011
|Canadian Payroll Reporter|Last Updated: 11/19/2010

A report from British Columbia’s finance committee is calling on the province to increase its minimum wage.

The committee of MLAs says the government should “increase the minimum wage in small increments with appropriate advance notice.” The 84-page report contains recommendations for the 2011 provincial budget. The recommendations are not binding on the government.

Currently, B.C.’s minimum wage is $8 per hour — the lowest in the country. Ontario has the highest wage at $10.25 per hour.

The report said the finance committee received feedback on the minimum wage at public hearings, in written submissions and from online survey respondents. Business organizations, labour unions, anti-poverty advocates and citizens raised the topic of an increase to the minimum wage, but disagreed on the timing and size of an increase.

Here’s a sampling of feedback included in the report:

•Mark von Schellwitz, of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said the current minimum wage should be maintained until the economy has recovered and that the “future minimum wage be based on predictable economic indicators, that increases are announced at least six months in advance, and that minimum wage is increased in small increments.”

•Anne Kothawala, of the Retail Council of Canada and Shelfspace, the Association for Retail Entreprenuers, said: “On the minimum wage, we recommend that government adopt a process and a set of guiding principles that provide certainty and affordability to B.C.’s small- and medium-sized business employers and employees.”

•Barry O’Neill, of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) — BC Division, said: “Increases in social assistance rates and the minimum wage are both necessary and overdue.”

•Darryl Walker, of the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union, said: “To end homelessness, increases income levels and reduce poverty rates, the government must raise the B.C. minimum wage and index it to inflation.”

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