Minimum wage will rise

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"We're taking the recommendations of the Fair Wages Commission".

Watch: Ontario minimum wage reaction raises concerns in B.C.

. Additional increases will come into effect on June 1 of the next three years.

The Fair Wages Commission, which was established last Fall, recommended the minimum wage rise by an additional $1.20 next year, tapering to a 75 cent raise in 2020, and between 60 and 80 cents in 2021 depending on the province's economic situation.

"In light of the slow timeline to achieve $15, we expect that the government will move more decisively in the next phase of its fair wage process around exemptions from the minimum wage, like the punitively lower wages for restaurant servers and farm workers, and the concept of a living wage", she said.

94,000 minimum-wage earners in B.C. will see a benefit from June's rate hike. The commission's scaled approach will allow businesses and employers to plan for predictable and stable increases to wages over time. "We are disappointed in the timeline".

There are about 500,000 workers in B.C. who are being paid too little to cross the poverty line, even if they work full-time, Lanzinger said. "The way to start down the right path is to find a way to lift people out of poverty".

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Currently, B.C.'s minimum wage is $11.35 an hour.

"We are better off with this NDP government in this regard than we would have been with the Liberals", she said.

In Surrey, the province's second-most populous city after Vancouver, the city's board of trade said the stress of the minimum-wage hike will be tough on its members, especially as it comes after increased property taxes and federal tax changes, among other stresses. From 2001 to 2011, under premier Gordon Campbell, the minimum wage remained at $8 an hour.

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

Over 20% of all workers in B.C. earn less than $15 an hour. Ontario's minimum wage will hit the $15 level on January 1, 2019, and Alberta will reach $15 this October.

A liveable wage is considered one that accounts for housing, food, clothing, transportation, recreation, savings and education. In 2015, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson pointedly called for the $15 wage, dubbing it an issue of affordability.

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Alberta is wrapping up a four-year staged minimum wage increase that began in 2015.

According to the provincial government, some 400,000 workers in B.C. earn less than $15 an hour.

The wage is now $11.35 and will rise every June until 2021.

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.

"If we're going to be competitive, if we're going to be able to recruit and retain workers in sectors like hospitality and others that pay, on balance, lower wages we need to make sure that we are competitive with other jurisdictions", Horgan said.

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