In 2015, Smart Change as a grassroots, movement-building organization, will place itself squarely on the front line of social justice-fair wage battles in BC.
Toward this end, Smart Change is partnering with the BC Federation of Labour (and its union and non-union partners) in the BC Fight For $15 - Living Wage campaign. Smart Change will focus its public engagement efforts in Vancouver and Victoria.
We hope you will join us!
Time to increase the Minimum Wage
On November 26, 2014 Jim Sinclair, the outgoing President of the BC Federation of Labour, announced that the Fed was launching the Fight for $15 campaign, calling on the provincial government to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour.
On November 28, 2014 Irene Lanzinger the newly elected BC Fed President (first woman elected), reiterated that the Fight for $15 was one of her top goals.
BC’s minimum wage has been frozen for two years now (almost three years for farmworkers); meanwhile, BC’s major metropolitan areas are becoming some of the most expensive places to live in Canada. B.C.'s current minimum wage is $10.25 per hour, although the minimum wage for liquor servers is $9 per hour.
BC’s minimum wage rates are set on an ad hoc, discretionary basis by the BC government.
The BC process for increasing minimum wage is out of step with the majority of provinces in Canada. Most other provinces automatically adjust minimum wage annually on the basis of economic and social indicators, including the cost of living, average weekly wages, and poverty indicators.
For example, Nova Scotia indexes its minimum wage rate to changes in the StatsCan LICO and cost of living index. Alberta and the Yukon automatically adjust their minimum wage on the basis of increases in the cost of living index and/or average weekly earnings. Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan adjust their minimum wages on the basis of the recommendations of independent minimum wage boards.
In 2006, over 650 US economists, including five Nobel Laureates, signed on to a joint statement stating “a modest increase in the minimum wage would improve the well-being of low-wage workers and would not have the adverse effects that critics have claimed.”
In fact, following BC’s 2011 minimum wage rate increase, there was a net gain of 54,000 jobs and a decline in the unemployment rate (April 2011 to May 2012).
In January 2012, Statistics Canada data revealed that BC was the only province where the bottom 90 percent made less in 2010 that they did in 1982. In Vancouver, the bottom 90 percent saw their incomes drop by $4,300 after accounting for inflation — the biggest decline in Canada’s three largest cities.
A further Stats Can study shows that “In 2013, the average minimum wage in Canada amounted to $10.14 per hour. The 1975 minimum wage translated into 2013 dollars (that is, the real minimum wage) was almost identical at $10.13.”
This is unacceptable! Low wage workers are falling behind, and continue to struggle to make ends meet and support their families.
As an immediate action, the B.C. Federation of Labour is calling on the BC government to increase minimum wage to $15 per hour.
That is not the end point, but an important start to ensure our lowest paid workers get the lift they need.