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B.C.’s minimum wage increases


Victoria – British Columbia’s increase in the minimum wage, which began this week, has drawn a disappointed reaction from Restaurants Canada.

The increase will be in two stages. The first increase, effective Sept. 15, will be 40 cents and will bring the general minimum wage up to $10.85 per hour and the liquor server minimum wage to $9.60. These new rates include the 10 cents scheduled for the 2015 Consumer Price Index (CPI), plus an additional 30 cents, the province said in a news release.

The second increase, effective Sept. 15, 2017, will be 30 cents plus an amount based on the 2016 CPI (currently estimated to be 10 cents) and will bring the general minimum wage rate to at least $11.25 and the liquor server minimum wage to $10. The 2016 CPI will be available from Statistics Canada by March 2017.

The daily rate for live-in home support workers and live-in camp leaders, as well as the monthly rates for resident caretakers and farm worker piece rates (for harvesters of certain fruits and vegetables) will also increase proportionate to the general minimum hourly wage increases on the same dates.

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Restaurants Canada said the increases are arbitrary and not backed up by  objective economic rationale. The B.C. government has gone back on its 2015 commitment to link future minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index and that the 3.8 per cent hike is more than twice the rate of inflation, the association noted in a news release.

“We asked the government to leave the politics aside and tie increases to objective economic indicators for a more predictable business environment,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada’s vice-president for Western Canada, in the release. “Restaurateurs support their entry-level staff’s wages keeping up with the cost of living, but are tired of minimum wage being thrown around like a political football.”

“The province’s general minimum wage and liquor server wage increased by 40 cents from $10.45 to $10.85, and $9.20 to $9.60, respectively,” the association said. “Next September, the minimum wage will climb another 40 cents from $10.85 to $11.25. The liquor server wage, which recognizes the significant income servers earn from tips, will also rise by the same amount, from $9.60 to $10, in 2017.

“While the 2016 minimum wage increase is higher than expected, there is minimum wage certainty for 2017. The minimum wage announcement earlier this year also included $2.88 million in targeted new job training supports and a one per cent reduction in the small business tax rate from 2.5% to 1.5% for 2017, which will offer some relief to restaurant businesses.”