Minimum wage in British Columbia went up 50 cents to $11.35 an hour on Friday.
The increase was announced by Lacour Minister Harry Bains in August, following a promise made by the previous Liberal government.
Liquor servers’ minimum wage also rose by 50 cents to $10.10 an hour on Friday.
?The 50 cent increase was a commitment made by the previous government that we as the new government will honour and legally implement, thereby creating a stepping stone toward our $15 an hour goal,? Bains said back in August.
The province now has the third highest minimum wage in the country. Nunavut has the highest minimum wage in Canada at $13 an hour, while Saskatchewan has the lowest at $10.72. The B.C. government said there were 93,800 people who earned minimum wage in B.C. last year in a workforce of just under two million people. According to the province, 54 per cent of the people earning minimum wage in 2016 were youths aged 15 to 24.
J.P. Perkins, who has 35 years in the construction business, supported Friday’s minimum wage increase. However, he doesn’t think it’s enough.
“Living wage in Victoria for two people, each have to make 21.50, 22 bucks an hour. That’s just to live decently, like citizens, which is what we deserve in Canada right?” Perkins said.
Luke Wilson, a Grade 10 student at Oak Bay High School, also supports the increase. Like many high school students, Wilson works at a minimum wage job, which is often the first time the students are entering the workforce.
“I think it’s going to be a positive impact on youth,” Wilson said. And I would say that even thought it’s going to make more businesses a little bit more weary of hiring. It’s going to be better for the people.”
Grade 11 student Casey Martin said Friday’s increase was not enough.
“I think it’s still not high enough to have a living wage,” Martin said. “But it’s a step in the right direction.”
Another Grade 10 student, Rob El Surjani, said working at minimum wage makes saving for university a difficult endeavour.
“We’re maybe going to be going to university, fees are really expensive,” El Surjani said, adding he would like a slightly larger increase in wages. “We’re not expecting to be rich.But at least we can balance life, you know?”