WATCH: More than 100-thousand working British Columbians live far below the poverty line.
They earn minimum wage of $10.85 an hour.
The BC Federation of Labour says that’s not nearly enough and is calling on the provincial government to give those workers a raise.
But as Mary Griffin reports, not everyone agrees.
Street Level Espresso is a tiny shop in the heart of Victoria.
Owner Darlene Archibald works along side her employee, whom she pays minimum wage.
“We don’t make a lot of money here.
It’s pretty tight.
And it’s pretty hard having a small business downtown.”
The BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger estimates more than 100,000 British Columbians earn minimum wage, $10.85 an hour.
And she’s calling on the Liberal government to increase it to fifteen dollars an hour.
“One in four workers in this province works for less than 15 dollars an hour.
And even if they work full-time, they are four thousand dollars below the poverty line.”
But the provincial government’s preferred approach for increasing wages is through job creation.
“We believe in saying yes to projects, making sure that when jobs are created in this province, that we have well-paying family supported jobs.”
But a new study from the non-profit organization, Generation Squeeze, determined that despite the booming BC economy it’s tough to live.
Especially for adults in their 20’s, to 40’s trying to rent and buy housing in the country’s most expensive markets.
“I’m out of school, and I work for above minimum wage.
But it’s still a struggle.
And I couldn’t imagine even working for 18 dollars an hour.
I struggle every month.”
“If you think of what it costs a person, whether they are minimum wage or low income, or whatever level.
You can’t make it.
Fifteen dollars is almost necessary.”
With 56,000 signatures on its petition calling for an increase in the minimum wage, the BC Federation is hoping the government changes its mind.