Wage Increase Ripple Effect

Last fall the BC government added 50 cents onto the minimum wage, bringing it to $11.35.  If the NDP follow through with their election promise that minimum will be $15.00 by the year 2021.

Ontario is going through a big increase to its minimum wage this month, $11.60 to $14/hour and employers have been finding ways to adjust.  Whether it’s taking away paid breaks, reducing hours and benefits or laying off staff, employers have to find a way to balance the numbers if they want to stay in business.

President of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Tom Dyas, says local businesses are not opposed to giving the increase in wages but they are concerned about the short timeframe in which it’s being done.  “It doesn’t allow for businesses to plan.  It could be almost 5 to 6 dollars per employee over a period of 3 years, and if you have 5 or 6 staff and you do the math, that consumes an extra 50,000 dollars or more.”

Dyas also indicated that student employees may be affected.  An employer that was able to see a bit of a discount in wages because of a student living at home, may choose to not employ that student at the rising rate.

The Bank of Canada recently broke down the numbers and predicts that 60 thousand positions may not be there for workers as a result of wage increases across Canada.

The Fair Wages Commission is still assessing the best way to get BC to that goal of $15/hour but other provinces already have their next moves planned.  Ontario will increase their minimum again next January to $15/hr and later this year Alberta will get to $15/hr, P.E.I. increases 30 cents to $11.55 and Quebec will go up 50 cents to $11.75.

The Fair Wages Commission is expected to elicit feedback from British Columbians sometime this spring.