Time to increase the Minimum Wage
We all know a young adult who wants to start on his own but has to live at home while paying off enormous students’ debt. And a senior without a pension sufficient to cover her living expenses who must continue to work, often in a low-paying job, well into her 70s. And a single mother who can’t go to work because earning minimum wage won’t cover the cost of childcare.
When the minimum wage is $10.25/hour (or soon to be a mere 20 cents more) these stories are inevitable. In fact, a full-time worker earning BC’s minimum wage will find herself more than $6,000 behind the poverty line, even more if she is supporting a family.
6.4 percent of workers in our province earn the minimum wage. That’s 120,000 people who are struggling to make ends meet. People from all demographics:
It is important to dispel the myth that minimum wage earners are all young people.
Nearly half - 47 percent – are older than 25. 63 percent are women. They are adults trying to establish a career; mothers and fathers trying to raise their families; and students trying to pay for their studies.
Shockingly, nearly 10,000 are over age 55. Seniors who simply cannot afford to retire, and are stuck in low wage jobs to keep paying the bills.
In a province as wealthy as ours, it is simply unacceptable that the government has set a minimum wage that entrenches thousands of people to a life of poverty.
That is why the BC Federation of Labour launched the Fight for $15 Campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour.
The BC government recent announcement (March 2015) that the minimum wage will be raised a mere 20cents to $10.45/hour and then be tied to annual inflation has only served to guarantee low wage workers to a life of poverty.
While politicians make excuses, working people are left behind. Even with the pathetic 20 cent lift, BC’s minimum wage is one of the lowest in Canada (ranking 10th out of 13 provinces and territories).
In a province so rich in resources and opportunity, this is simply unacceptable. The BC Liberal government needs to get serious about addressing poverty and income inequality.
Most people get it. A recent poll showed that 75 percent of British Columbians support a “significant and immediate increase to the minimum wage,” and 80 percent say that an increase is “reasonable considering the cost of living.”
We aren’t the only ones talking about this issue. Income inequality has become an important topic of discussion right across North America.
Other jurisdictions are moving to a $15/hour minimum wage – Seattle and San Francisco are two examples. There is a road map being developed, and BC should be part of setting that agenda.
Of course, people have concerns. What about small businesses?
You don’t need to be an economist to know that the best thing for businesses is when working people have money in their pockets to spend. These same workers are the customers that keep local shops and services in business. An increased minimum wage is actually an investment in the community and the local economy.
We can’t afford to have working people living in poverty – that is what really hurts businesses.
We all want to live in a fair society where people have the means to look after themselves and their families. To do this we need to start making real policy change, and one of those changes must be raising the minimum wage to $15/hr.
Help us achieve this goal. Sign the petition and join the campaign at www.fightfor15bc.ca
When we work together, we can bring about real change. Let’s build an economy that works for everyone.
More information about the Fight for $15 campaign and important facts about minimum wage in BC, see the Fight for $15 Fact Sheets attached: