An NDP government in British Columbia would hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour, NDP leader John Horgan said Sunday.
Horgan told a group of NDP campaigners in Kamloops that the raise would come in the NDP’s first term if elected next year.
“It’s not good enough that people are working full-time or more just to keep their heads above water, and it’s not good enough that this generation will actually be worse off than their parents when it comes to affordability and opportunity,” Horgan said.
“Christy Clark was elected on her promise to put B.C. families first, but in fact people have never been her priority. She is focused on the needs of her wealthy and well-connected supporters at the expense of the rest of us.”
Horgan said Premier Clark has “chosen” to keep the minimum wage in B.C. one of the lowest in Canada.
Dan Baxter, the director of policy development for the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, said Horgan’s numbers are troubling.
“Our members have been clear on the minimum wage,” Baxter said Sunday. “They want it in a predictable and certain way.
“When you start seeing large increases it does concern us.”
Besides trying to pay for a higher minimum wage, Baxter also said the increase will have people who now get $15 an hour asking for more as well. “It leads to a ratcheting effect,” he said.
B.C. currently has the lowest minimum wage in Canada at $10.45 an hour, while Ontario has the highest at $11.25 an hour. In May, Clark announced that B.C.’s minimum wage would increase by 40 cents to $10.85 an hour on Sept. 15, with another increase to $11.25 next year.
Baxter said increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour would be close to a 25-per-cent hike, something the chamber’s members would find hard to swallow.
“For a small-business owner in particular, when they see these potential jumps in labour costs they have to make decisions,” he said.
“They potentially have to work more themselves,” he said.
“With potentially less labour it needs to be something they can plan for.”