The minimum wage has not been changed in British Columbia for the past eight years.
Vancouver (16 Sept. 2009) - The B.C. Government and Services Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) is demanding that Premier Gordon Campbell raise the province's minimum wage, now the lowest in Canada at $8 an hour.
Between 2006 and 2008, Campbell's personal salary was raised to $187,589 – an increase of 48%, the union notes.
"It's astonishing that the provincial government has refused for eight years to increase the minimum wage," says BCGEU president Darryl Walker.
"B.C. now has the lowest minimum wage in Canada since New Brunswick increased their minimum wage to $8.25. B.C.'s has been held at $8, and Gordon Campbell has said he won't be increasing the minimum wage for years to come," he adds.
"For a few years low unemployment forced employers to pay more. But now we're in a recession and more people are unemployed, there is nothing to stop corporations from lowering the wage again."
Walker says there are still 63,000 people across British Columbia earning the minimum wage.
"Businesses often say only part-time workers, or workers who are 'transitioning' to another job, are earning the minimum," he notes.
"But that's irrelevant when you are trying to pay for rent or buy groceries. Another 293,000 people, whose wage is often pegged by their employer at a dollar or two above the minimum, still earn less than $10 an hour. How can people live on that kind of wage?"
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