(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) Today’s announcement tying this year’s provincial minimum wage increase to the rate of inflation — a rise of 2.8 percent — is welcome news, BCFED Secretary-Treasurer Sussanne Skidmore said today.
“With the cost of living going up, BC’s lowest-paid workers need every extra cent they can get, so this is good news,” Skidmore said. “But our province is a very expensive place to live and work. We need to do a lot more to close the gap and make sure everyone can earn a living wage.”
Skidmore congratulated the government for committing to regularly increase the minimum wage. “The old BC Liberal government froze the minimum wage for years on end, and workers slipped further and further behind,” she said.
“BC has gone from one of the lowest rates in Canada under the BC Liberals, to the highest provincial minimum wage under the BC NDP government. And it’s good to see measures to help keep that from being eroded by inflation,” she said, adding the increase will help women and racialized workers, who disproportionately work in low-income sectors.
But she said too many workers are still excluded from minimum wage protection. “It’s long past time to eliminate the hand-harvesting piece-work rate for farmworkers, a key recommendation of the Fair Wages Commission,” Skidmore said. “And employers are still ducking minimum wage rules and other employment standards by misclassifying thousands of gig and precarious workers as contractors.”
She added that the minimum wage is still well below a living wage, the amount a family needs to cover basic expenses. “Every worker should be able to earn a wage that makes their community affordable and liveable, no matter where they live in BC,” she said.
The BC Federation of Labour has campaigned for years to ensure low-wage workers are fairly compensated. Their Fight for 15 campaign united labour, community organizations and workers from across the province, making a successful case for a significant increase in BC’s minimum wage. On June 1, 2021, BC became the first province with a minimum wage that exceeded $15, at $15.20 per hour.