'By ensuring fairer compensation for our lowest-paid workers, we will reduce inequality and foster a more inclusive society'
Minimum wage workers across British Columbia are set to receive a pay rise this year, with the government announcing a general wage hike from $15.65 to $16.75 an hour. The hopes are that the 6.9% wage increase will offset cost of living concerns, following the province’s commitment to tie annual minimum wage increases to inflation.
“Having a minimum wage that keeps up with inflation is a key step to prevent the lowest paid workers from falling behind,” says Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “These workers and their families feel the impacts of high costs much more than anyone else. We are maintaining our policy of tying the minimum wage to inflation.”
This increase will impact around 150,000 workers across B.C., taking the province’s minimum wage from one of the lowest to one of the highest in Canada. The change will take effect on June 1st 2023.
“Elevating the minimum wage is a necessary response to inflation,” adds Jim Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work. “The inflation we are experiencing now in B.C. is driven by profits, not wages. It is unfair to expect the most vulnerable workers to give up some of their non-discretionary income because of record high inflation. By ensuring fairer compensation for our lowest-paid workers, we will reduce inequality and foster a more inclusive society.”
Inflation and cost of living concerns have been key issues for employers in 2023, with employees battling for higher wages while organizations try to keep their costs down.
Earlier this year, Manitoba announced its own minimum wage hike from $13.50 to $15.30 per hour, as of October 1st 2023. Again, this change is reflective of inflation rates in the province, with Labour and Immigration Minister Jon Reyes adding that the move was intended to help balance the financial realities of Manitoba workers and the economic challenges for small businesses.
Similarly, Quebec’s minimum wage is set to increase by $1 as of May 1st 2023. However, in this case, some advocates don’t believe the raise goes far enough. Liberal MP Madwa-Nika Cadet tweeted that while it’s “a step forward” it’s not enough to catch up with the inflation rate.
But in the face of more pay rise requests, what exactly are employers to do? Speaking to HRD in an earlier interview, Pedro Antunes, chief economist at The Conference Board of Canada, cautioned organizations against sweeping salary increases – saying that it could only add to the risk of a recession.
“Instead, employers should consider one off measures, bonuses or temporary inflation-beating measures to help their staff,” he says. “That can help get inflation down over the longer term, benefiting both households and businesses.”