Surrey Board of Trade says minimum wage hike 'too quick'

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Patrick Stafford-Smith, chief executive officer of the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, said the business community was expecting the minimum wage hikes but he hopes that it's not a case of "keeping up with the Joneses".

"We've got lots of job vacancies, and the reason people aren't coming to take those jobs is largely because of the cost of housing and transportation and childcare in the city".

"I am certain that those that are making the minimum wage will feel better on June 1 of this year and the year after that and the year after that", said Horgan.

The plan to reach $15 an hour provides for an immediate increase of $1.30 an hour on June 1, 2018, to a new minimum wage of $12.65 an hour.

The Fair Wages Commission's report to Labour Minister Harry Bains is dated January 17.

BC's minimum wage now sits at $11.35 an hour, following a 50-cent hike last September.

BC Federation of Labour president Irene Lanzinger says while achieving a $15 per hour minimum wage is an accomplishment, the wait is too long for B.C.'s impoverished workers.

"Predictability and certainty allows businesses to plan and ensure they are prepared for these changes", he said.

"I am especially concerned that this may be the straw that breaks some of them", she said, adding businesses are facing increased property taxes, and increases in taxes due to recent federal tax changes to the CCPC.

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"[There will be] another increase the following June and a further increase the June after that, until we realize $15.20 in June of 2021", says Horgan.

About half a million B.C. workers, or 25 per cent of the province's labour force, earn poverty level wages, which is considered less than $15 per hour.

She said if the government wants to make a difference, it needs to invest on all those fronts. A lower minimum wage rate exists for liquor servers because they can earn tips on top of their regular pay.

Lanzinger said that fear-mongering about how raising the minimum wage will affect businesses doesn't play out in reality. 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.

Iglika Ivanova, a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives B.C. office, said the increases could have been made faster but that it's good that the largest increases will happen in the first two years.

Over 20% of all workers in B.C. earn less than $15 an hour.

The NDP government is hiking BC's minimum wage.

Also, the government has plans ahead for child care as part of its commitment to a $10-per day program, among other areas, he said.

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