NEWS RELEASE · 1st October 2010
BC NDP Caucus
Premier Campbell must use the opportunity to address B.C.'s lowest paid-workers and business owners in his speech this morning at the Union of B.C. Municipalities to clarify his labour minister's muddled comments on the minimum wage, the New Democrats say.
After suggesting on Wednesday that the government might finally raise B.C.'s minimum wage, which is the lowest in the country, on Thursday Labour Minister Murray Coell backtracked.
"British Columbians have been loud and clear in their call for the government to raise the minimum wage. After nearly a decade, it's long past time we rewarded hard work by giving our lowest-paid workers a much-deserved raise," said New Democrat Labour critic Raj Chouhan.
"For the B.C. Liberal government to simply suggest one day they're ready to address this shameful situation and then the next day slam shut the door on that possibility is a cruel joke and disrespectful to families struggling to make ends meet. The premier has a chance this morning to provide certainty for minimum wage earners and small businesses. Let's hope that he takes this opportunity to admit his government's shortcomings in addressing the serious issue of minimum wage."
Chouhan noted that Coell appears to be waffling on the idea of a raise to the minimum wage, given that on Thursday he refused to repeat previous B.C. Liberal claims that raising the minimum wage would be a "job killer."
"Jurisdictions across Canada and around the world have recognized that a fair minimum wage is essential to a healthy economy. Whether it's the Union of B.C. Municipalities, the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association, or the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, leaders from diverse sectors of the economy are calling on the B.C. Liberal government to do the right thing and raise the minimum wage," said Chouhan.
The last time B.C.'s lowest-paid workers had a raise was in 2001, when the minimum wage was set at $8 an hour. Since then, the B.C. Liberal government has also introduced the controversial $6 "training wage".
"Everyone deserves to be rewarded for hard work. It's no coincidence that we have the lowest minimum wage and the highest rate of child poverty in the country. In a province as wealthy as B.C., that's simply not acceptable," said Chouhan.
"Let's hope that the B.C. Liberal government does the right thing and raise the minimum wage to reflect the rising cost of living."