BC ties minimum wage to consumer price index

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By: Korie Marshall

The BC government is indexing increases to minimum wage, announced Shirley Bond, Minister for Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, last month. Starting mid- September, minimum wage will rise to $10.45 per hour, and the liquor server wage will rise to $9.20. The last minimum wage increase in BC took place in 2012.

The government has committed to predictable yearly minimum wage increases, linked to the provincial Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI is a measure of the change in price of a variety of products, and is published by Statistics Canada. It is a common method of determining hikes for wages as well as federal Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Pension payments. Starting in 2016, the minimum wage will be increased according to the CPI increase from the previous year. If there is a negative change in CPI, the minimum wage would stay the same.

The government is also applying the same formula to the period since minimum wage was last raised. Effective Sept. 15th, 2015, the general minimum hourly wage will increase from $10.25 to $10.45 and the liquor server wage from $9.00 to $9.20.

The daily rate for live-in home support workers and live-in camp leaders, as well as the monthly rates for resident caretakers and the farm worker piece rates will also increase proportionate to the 20-cent increase in the general minimum hourly wage. All of the new rates will take effect on Sept. 15, 2015.

“Raising the minimum wage allows B.C. to keep pace with minimum wages in the rest of Canada while maintaining our competitiveness,” said Minister Bond in a news release last month. “We remain focused on our plan to grow BC’s diverse economy to encourage investment that leads to high-paying, family supporting jobs.”

Bond says the government is also working to remove barriers to move people up the income ladder. Increasing minimum wage, tax policy, social supports, education and training are all tools that help British Columbians. A new Single Parent Employment Initiative has also been announced with significant changes to the income and disability assistance program that will help single parents transition into the workforce, says Bond. Single parents will be allowed to stay on assistance for up to 12 months while they train for their new job.

“We’ve also raised the earning exemption for families on income assistance, allowing a person to earn more money from a job without jeopardizing their full provincial support payments,” said Bond.

The government says it will announce the yearly increase to the minimum wage in March each year, to take effect Sept. 15 each year, giving businesses the necessary lead time to implement the new minimum wage without undue hardship.

The province says people earning minimum wage currently represent 110,400 employees, or 5.9 per cent of the paid workforce, below the national average of 7.2per cent. Of those, 91 per cent worked in the service producing sector; 57 per cent were part time workers; 7 per cent were defined as being the head of the family; and 52 per cent lived with their parents (47 per cent of whom were attending school).

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