On June 1, 2023, B.C’s minimum wage increased from $15.65 to $16.75 an hour, a part of what the provincial government describes as regular, gradual increases to the minimum wage to provide certainty to workers.
The 6.9 percent increase that took hold on Thursday (June 1) also applies to minimum-wage rates for resident caretakers, live-in home-support workers, and live-in camp leaders, which have separate rates. On January 1, 2024, piece rates for the hand-harvesting of 15 crops specified in the Employment Standards Regulation will increase by the same percentage.
“Having a minimum wage that keeps up with inflation is a key step to prevent the lowest paid workers from falling behind,” said Harry Bains, minister of labour. “These workers and their families feel the impacts of high costs much more than anyone else. We are maintaining our policy of tying the minimum wage to inflation.”
The province said in a press release that the increase will positively benefit over 100,000 B.C. residents currently working for minimum wage, adding that the move to tie the minimum wage to inflation provides certainty for workers and predictability for businesses. When the move was first announced in April, some business organizations were critical of the large increase.
“The BC Chamber of Commerce is extremely disappointed with the government’s decision to increase the minimum wage by such a significant amount. This decision is the wrong choice, at the wrong time,” said Fiona Famulak, president and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce.
“The increase comes on the heels of several government decisions in the last 14 months that have added significantly to the cost of doing business in British Columbia, for example, through the introduction of the mandatory five days paid sick leave and the recently announced new statutory holiday. Today’s announcement will make it difficult for many businesses to manage their operations moving forward and is a disincentive to (re)invest in our province.”
Other organizations such as labour councils and living wage advocates called the increase a good start, but called for further increases to increase security for workers and their families as the cost of living skyrockets. The province said that options are being developed to continue to fulfil government’s commitment to tie minimum wage to inflation for future years.