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Minimum wage increase to benefit both employees and economy: Premier John Horgan

Minimum wage increase to benefit both employees and economy: Premier John Horgan

"We believe that we have strong economic growth in British Columbia and the commission's rationale for front-end loading the increases was because we have a robust economy in British Columbia and the expectation is that's going to continue for the next two years", Horgan said.

Premier John Horgan and Labour Minister Harry Bains made the announcement from a North Vancouver coffee shop on Thursday that their government, with the support of the B.C. Green Party, would be upping the wages of the lowest earners to $12.65 per hour on June 1with annual increases for the next four years.

Additional increases will take place each June until 2021, when the rate will reach $15.20. This will be increased in stages beginning June 1, when it will rise by $1.30 to $12.65.

The living wage - an hourly wage for an adequate quality of life - in Victoria is $20.01 an hour, according to a 2017 report by the Community Social Planning Council of Great Victoria. Christy Clark announced an increase immediately after she formed government in 2011. At the time of the increase, restaurants in B.C. warned that a sharp increase here would mean either more expensive meals for customers or staff being fired.

In 2019, B.C.'s lowest-paid workers will earn $13.85 an hour, $14.60 in 2020 and $15.20 the following year.

She says making 500,000 low paid workers who now make less than $15 wait until June 1, 2021 to climb above poverty wage rates is "not fair". Next week's throne speech will talk about other measures, including child care and housing affordability, he said. "We'd love to hear from businesses out there who this is going to impact and we'd like to make sure the government hears from them so they can make any adjustments as we move forward in the next few years".

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce agreed.

"They also looked at experiences of other jurisdictions, the history of wage increases and the impact those impacts had on businesses and on employment". In a report delivered to government in January 2018, following public consultations and receipt of research and submissions, the commission recommended four minimum wage increases over four years.

In a statement, federation President Irene Lanzinger said reaching $15 is better than any measure taken by the former BC Liberal government to address poverty wages and inequality.

Lanzinger says about 60 per cent of low wage workers are women, and 80 per cent are adults.

While the increases are good news for those earning minimum wage, the Surrey Board of Trade says it's too much, too quick.

The province will then revisit the wage each year before the June increase to ensure it is keeping on target.

"Our small businesses, especially those in the service sector, are vulnerable to increasing costs from various sources", Huberman said.

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