B.C. Wage increase raises blood pressure

August 30, 2000

The B.C. government wants to raise its minimum wage, but its also raised the hackles of the business community. The increase, to eight dollars an hour, is 85 cents higher than B.C.'s present level of $7.15.

The planned pay increase comes in two steps. On November 1st, minimum wages will rise to $7.60, followed by a second increase November 1st, 2001 to the approved $8.00.

The B.C. government didn't arrive at this decision lightly, spending months in discussions with various government, labour, business and anti-poverty groups before rendering their decision. B.C. Premier Ujjal Dosanjh agreed that there would be criticisms of the government's plan, but stated in the National Post today, "It is time to give our lowest-paid workers a pay raise."

Analysts and business owners believe this move will increase layoffs and result in fewer jobs in the future, due to shrinking profits. "People are going to be laid off, no question," B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association chairman Geoffery Howes told the Globe and Mail, "Put very simply, this [wage] increase means that our members have to find a way to use less labour."

"The new minimum wage helps low-income families the most," said B.C. Labour minister Joy MacPhail in a news release today, "We want to improve their standard of living and ensure they can participate fully in our growing economy."

Still, many business associations dispute the government's belief that this will be a win-win situation for low-income families. One person who disagrees is Mark Startup, president of the Retail Merchants Association of B.C. who said in the Globe and Mail today, "There have been multitudes of studies done in Canada and the U.S. states that refute this. What [the government] is not saying, is that this increase will make it much harder for unskilled or underskilled workers, who are primarily youth, to get a job in B.C."

The increase also raises questions if other provinces will follow B.C.'s lead and also raise their minimum wages, as has happened in the past. Many provinces raised their minimum wages in 1999. A few provinces, though, including Ontario and Nova Scotia, have not raised theirs in nearly four years, with Ontario's the same since it was last raised to its present level of $6.85 on January 1st, 1995.

Current minimum wage levels by province

Other Related Links

BC Government News Release

DOW Chemical's Statement
B.C. Government's regulatory impact statement on the wage increase.

Retail Merchants Association of B.C. Web site

B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association Web site

Salary Comparison Calculator
Compare the cost of living between many major Canadian Cities.

Salaries Review Survey
Salary comparisons and cost of living surveys from all over Canada.

ISSN 1499-7894
Contact Archives Web Love Writing Photos FAQs Home