B.C. minimum wage to be tied to inflation

Hourly rate goes up 20 cents in September, to be increased annually based on consumer price index for province

Jobs Minister Shirley Bond

B.C.’s minimum wage is going up by 20 cents in September, and will see annual increases to match the B.C. consumer price index each September after that.

It’s the first increase since 2012, when the current wage of $10.25 was set. Jobs Minister Shirley Bond said this year’s increase reflects what would have taken place if indexing to inflation had been in place at that time.

The lower minimum wage for restaurant and pub servers is being retained, going from $9 to $9.20 in September. The discount from the general minimum wage will remain at $1.25 per hour to account for tips earned by servers, Bond said.

Piece rates for seasonal piece workers are to receive proportional increases, as are day rates paid to live-in camp counsellors and residential caretakers at apartment buildings.

B.C. is the last province in Canada to move to an automatic formula for setting the minimum wage. The annual increase will be announced each March based on the previous year’s consumer price index, and will take effect each September to give small businesses time to prepare.

In the case of negative inflation, which the province experienced briefly in recent years, the minimum wage would not be decreased.

Bond said she expects continued debate on the wage rate, led by the B.C. Federation of Labour, which is calling for an immediate increase to $15 an hour.

Naomi Yamamoto, B.C.’s minister of state for small business, said consultation with business was clear that employers want predictable increases, not large jumps. The September increase amounts to about two per cent, keeping B.C.’s minimum wage higher than Alberta and Saskatchewan’s $10.20 an hour.

Using a similar formula, Ontario’s minimum wage rose to $11 an hour last year.