WATCH: Victoria’s tight job market means minimum wage often won’t cut it so Butchart Gardens is upping it’s starting wage to $15 an hour to try and entice workers. Tess van Straaten reports.
Butchart Gardens is a world-renowned tourist destination, attracting more than a million visitors a year and it takes a lot of staff to keep the gardens running.
That's why Vancouver Island's most famous tourist attraction is having a huge hiring blitz, as it tries to get a jump on the competitive summer job market in Victoria.
"A lot of the students, especially, are looking for jobs now," says Butchart Gardens human resources director Jeannie Christison. "They don't wait until the end of the school year and we need to get out and at least let it be known that we're looking."
The jobs at the designated National Historic Site range from visitor services, food services and the gift store, to gardening and even higher-paying trades jobs. But the starting wage for service jobs is being increased to $15 an hour — that's $3.65 higher than B.C.'s $11.35 minimum wage. It's also up significantly from the $12.18 Butchart paid last year.
"We're finding that the labour market is very competitive and we have hope that this gets us out front and certainly top of mind with people looking for employment," Christison explains.
The big question now — will a $15 starting wage put pressure on other employers to increase wages in Greater Victoria's tight labour market? Unemployment is at an ultra-low 3.4 per cent, which is the lowest in the province and the second lowest in Canada.
All of Butchart's recruiting is for the busy spring and summer season. More than 600 employees work at the gardens during peak season, making it one of the largest employers on the Saanich Peninsula.
"We have a large staff that we have to work with and certainly recruit for because it's a seasonal job for most of them, which works well for students and works well for seniors as well," Christison says.
The job fair is Feb. 20 from 6–8pm and more information, including applications, are available online.