British Columbia Federation of Labour sees government announcement as abandoning working people. Measures government proposed will guarantee that many workers will remain in poverty.
Vancouver (16 March 2015) — The BC Federation of Labour is extremely disappointed with the BC Liberal government’s announcement on minimum wage, saying it will do nothing to lift minimum-wage workers out of poverty.
“Today’s announcement guarantees that hundreds of thousands of British Columbians will continue to live in poverty for years to come,” said Irene Lanzinger, President of the BC Federation of Labour. “Lifting the minimum wage to $10.45 is nowhere close to the increase that is needed—and indexing a poverty wage only entrenches people in poverty.”
Calls to increase minimum wage to bring workers above poverty line
The BC Federation of Labour has been calling on the government to lift the minimum wage to $15/hr, a wage that would lift a full-time worker above the poverty line.
The government announced a $0.20 lift to the minimum wage, and a commitment to index that wage to annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) lifts.
“Under the government plan, the minimum wage will not reach $15/hr until 2034. That is unacceptable,” said Lanzinger. “The government has abandoned the lowest-paid workers in our province, and done so at a time when they are giving tax breaks to the wealthiest 2%.”
Tax breaks for the rich
Lanzinger pointed to Budget 2015, which provided a tax break to people earning over $150,000.
“Increasing the minimum wage is an important investment in our economy — ensuring working people have money to spend in their community is essential to supporting local business,” said Lanzinger. “Other jurisdictions have figured it out — they know that stagnant and poverty wages are what hurt the economy.”
Lanzinger also pointed out that there was no formal consultation on the government announcement. “We have been actively lobbying, but never did the government engage in public, thoughtful consultation with stakeholders on what the wage should be.
“The government needs to change course. B.C.’s overall poverty rate is the second highest in the country,” said Lanzinger. “Increasing the minimum wage is a vital step in a poverty reduction plan.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE