Minimum wage increase doesn’t help with ‘affordability crisis’: BC United

The BC Government announced that minimum wage will increase to $17.30 in June. While that may be good news for minimum wage workers, this hike is still not enough to keep up with the cost of living in Metro Vancouver. Cecilia Hua reports.

BC United says the province’s new minimum wage increase is not an adequate improvement to keep the cost of living down.

Greg Kyllo, the co-critic for Jobs, Trade and Technology, says he’s happy the minimum wage wage is going up, but says he feels the NDP isn’t doing enough to keep up with the cost of living.

“We have an affordability crisis in this province,” he said.

“What about the 31 newer increased taxes that are actually really taking a bigger bite out of people’s wallet on a daily basis? That’s the challenge.”

In the announcement by the province on Monday, the 3.9 per cent increase — to $17.40 an hour — is consistent with B.C.’s average rate of inflation last year.

According to B.C.’s minister of labour, the province has “gone from having one of the lowest minimum wages in the country to the highest.”

The province says, all future increases to minimum wages will be automatically determined by the previous year’s average B.C. inflation rate. The province says this will provide workers and employers “certainty and predictability.”

But Kyllo says British Columbians should be concerned because the NDP is “great at making big announcements” and “big on spending,” but isn’t doing enough to bring actual change.

“When it comes to real, meaningful impacts, that actually reduce the costs of British Columbians, there’s very little action,” he said.

Anastasia French, provincial manager at Living Wages for Families BC, says the wage increase is good news for workers who are struggling to get by. But she says there’s still an “$8 gap between the minimum and the living wage.”

The current living wage in Vancouver is calculated at $25.68, which covers essential services like food, rent and childcare. The proposed minimum wage would leave people around $15,000 behind.

“They have to make really difficult decisions, they paid for gas this week, do they pay for groceries this week, do they cut back on their heating, do they cut back on their food? How do they manage to get by?” French said.

Meanwhile, employers are also worried that this increase will further offset costs of doing business.

Anita Huberman with the Surrey Board of Trade says this is an “unexpected cost in the face of so many economic pressures that businesses are facing.”

“Inflation is always uncertain, so how can you tie minimum wage to inflation?” she added.

Kyllo says B.C. is forecasting a $7.9 billion deficit for this year alone, which translates to an additional $1,500 in debt for every person in this province.

“If taxpayers have a look at this government, they’re taking on a huge amount of additional debt on behalf of future generations, our kids and our grandkids,” he said.

“(We have an) actual net reduction in the number of childcare spaces in the province, health care is a mess, crime is out of control. This is the government that’s failing on many, many levels.”

Kyllo says eliminating other taxes would reduce financial pressures on British Columbians. For example, he says removing the fuel tax would save the average person in B.C. $700 a year.

The BC United member also says the current carbon tax is more than the cost of gas itself, and the fact that these rates are going up another $15 starting April 1, is going to add more to the cost of living for British Columbians.

With files from Jawad Siddiqui., Hana Mae Nassar, Robyn Crawford, and Cecilia Hua.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today