In June, minimum wage will reach $12.65, and eventually, in three years, will actually exceed the promise by reaching $15.20.
Last summer, the B.C. NDP postponed the 2021 target promised during last spring's provincial election so an independent review panel - the Fair Wages Commission - could consider the timeline between the current $11.35 and $15.20 an hour.
Premier John Horgan announced Thursday morning that the province has decided to make increases to the minimum wage every year on June 1. Additional increases will come into effect on June 1 of the next three years. The wage jumps to $12.65 in June this year. Christy Clark announced an increase immediately after she formed government in 2011. "The fact is it's good for the economy to raise the wages of low wage workers". In 2015, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson pointedly called for the $15 wage, dubbing it an issue of affordability.
More than 20 per cent of all workers in B.C. earn less than $15 an hour.
"We believe we have strong economic growth in British Columbia and the expectation is that will continue over the next few years", said Horgan. "Like all British Columbians, our lowest-paid workers deserve a fair shake and a fair wage".
Also, the government has plans ahead for child care as part of its commitment to a $10-per day program, among other areas, he said. "We'd love to hear from businesses out there who this is going to impact and we'd like to make sure the government hears from them so they can make any adjustments as we move forward in the next few years". The commission's scaled approach will allow businesses and employers to plan for predictable and stable increases to wages over time.
The B.C. Chamber of Commerce agreed.
"Regular, predictable increases to our minimum wage are one important way we can make life more affordable for people", Premium John Horgan said.
The four increases between 2018 and 2021 represent a 34% increase over four years.
"Poverty and inequality are rampant in our province while B.C.is Canada's most expensive place to live", said B.C. Federation of Labour president Irene Lanzinger.
Lanzinger says about 60 per cent of low wage workers are women, and 80 per cent are adults.
In Surrey, the province's second-most populous city after Vancouver, the city's board of trade said the stress of the minimum-wage hike will be tough on its members, especially as it comes after increased property taxes and federal tax changes, among other stresses.
"There are many small businesses that this will impact in terms of their labour costs and if they have difficulty passing on those costs to customers, then it could be a real impact to them - many of those who do not earn a lot of money themselves", he said.