The B.C. government will increase the province's minimum wage in two stages, bringing the wage from the current $10.45 an hour to $11.25 an hour by 2017.
On Sept. 15, 2016, minimum wage will rise to $10.85.
That's a higher rise that what the province had previously committed to: an increase based on inflation that this year would have amounted to a $0.10 bump. The increase reflects $0.10 for inflation and $0.30 for B.C.'s economic growth, which has been the most robust in the country.
It was widely expected that the province would increase minimum wage at more than the rate of inflation. On April 1, B.C.'s minimum wage dropped to the lowest in Canada after several other provinces increased their minimum wage.
Business groups had been wary of the expected $0.40 change, saying it would add costs to small businesses already operating on tight profit margins. The province is cushioning the blow with more money for training ($2.3 million through the federal Canada Job Grant and $500,000 of provincial money for youth employment). As well, the province is committing to lower small business taxes by 40% by 2017.
B.C.'s ten-year freeze on the minimum wage was lifted in 2011, and the wage has risen in gradual increments since then. The BC Federation of Labour has been campaigning for a $15 minimum wage, a policy shift that has taken hold in some U.S. cities and states as well as in Alberta.
The number of people earning the minimum wage in B.C. has dropped the longer the rate remained unchanged. Data: BC Stats