Bloomberg Law for HR Professionals is a complete, one-stop resource, continuously updated, providing HR professionals with fast answers to a wide range of domestic and international human resources...
By Peter Menyasz
British Columbia’s new socialist government is taking a restrained approach to its commitment to boost the province’s minimum wage to C$15 ($12) an hour, joining Ontario and Alberta in announcing a years-long plan to gradually reach that goal.
“British Columbia’s lowest-paid workers need a raise,” Premier John Horgan said Aug. 15. “The action we’re taking will make life better for working parents, seniors, new Canadians, students, and more. These are people struggling to get by.”
British Columbia will increase its minimum wage in stages to reach C$15 an hour by 2021, beginning with a 50 cent an hour increase to C$11.35 ($9.08) Sept. 15, Horgan said.
The minimum wage increase will benefit nearly 100,000 workers in the province, 62 percent of them women, Horgan said.
Horgan’s socialist New Democratic Party took power on June 29 with the support of the Green Party, defeating former premier Christy Clark's Liberal government 44-42 in a no-confidence vote.
The path to a C$15 an hour minimum wage will be determined by a fair wages commission, whose composition and terms of reference will be unveiled soon, Labour Minister Harry Bains said Aug. 15. The commission's principal objective will be to reach that rate on a “planned, responsible” path, Bains said in a statement.
“We’ve listened to business owners, who have told us gradual, predictable increases are the way to go to minimize the impact on their businesses,” Bains said. “They recognize that the move to a C$15 minimum wage is good for retention for their businesses and good for the British Columbia economy.”
In addition to the general increase, the provincial government announced an increase in the special minimum wage for liquor servers of C$0.50 an hour to C$10.10 ($8.08). Other minimum-wage-related provisions in the province’s employment standards regulation will increase by 4.6 percent, including the daily rate for live-in home support workers and live-in camp leaders, monthly rates for resident caretakers, and minimum farm worker piece rates, the government said.
The planned gradual increase drew immediate support from business, while labor groups are arguing for faster increases.
Restaurant owners support reasonable minimum wage increases that ensure employees can keep up with the cost of living, if they are announced well in advance to give employers time to adjust, said Mark von Scheilwitz, Western Canada vice-president for Restaurants Canada.
“Restaurants Canada is pleased that the new government is proceeding with the previously announced 50-cents-an-hour minimum wage increases that small businesses have been preparing for,” Scheilwitz said.
The British Columbia Federation of Labour believes the minimum wage should be increased to C$15 an hour as soon as possible, particularly since the previous government froze the rate for 10 years, Irene Lanzinger, the labor group’s president, said Aug. 22.
The interim increase in September 2017 is still essentially a poverty wage, Lanzinger told Bloomberg BNA in an email.
“But when we get to C$15, that will mean people's wages are above the poverty line if they work full time,” she said.
In 2016, 93,800 or 4.8 percent of the province’s workers were paid the minimum wage, lower than the 6.9 percent national average, the Ministry of Labour said.
Controversy continues over the potential cost effects of the Ontario government’s plan to increase that province’s minimum wage to C$15 per hour by Jan. 1, 2019, starting with interim hikes of 20 cents per hour in October 2017 to C$11.60 ($9.28) per hour and to C$14 per hour on Jan. 1, 2018.
Major grocery retailers have been particularly vocal in their concerns.
Metro Inc. president Eric La Fleche warned Aug. 15 in a message accompanying the company’s financial report for third quarter that the wage increase could cost it C$40-50 million in 2018. Loblaw Companies reported July 26 in its second quarter 2017 report that planned minimum wage increases in Ontario and Alberta would cost it about C$190 million in 2018.
Unifor, Canada’s largest labor union, rejected these complaints in an Aug. 16 statement, suggesting that the highly profitable chains were among the best positioned to absorb the increases.
The increases will positively affect 70 percent of Unifor’s members at Metro stores and 90 percent at Metro’s Food Basics and Loblaws’ No Frills stores, most of them women working as cashiers and clerks, the union said.
“Instead of viewing the boost to Ontario’s minimum wage as an economic opportunity, these companies have chosen to focus public attention only on labor costs,” said Jerry Dias, the union’s national president. “That is incredibly disappointing.”
Alberta’s New Democratic Party government announced in September 2016 that it would increase that province’s minimum wage to C$15 on Oct. 1, 2018, with interim increases to C$12.20 on Oct. 1, 2016, and to C$13.60 on Oct. 1, 2017.
To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Menyasz in Ottawa at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on British Columbian HR law and regulation, see the British Columbia primer. For more information on Ontario HR law and regulation, see the Ontario primer. For more information on Alberta HR law and regulation, see the Alberta primer.
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)