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POLITICS

 

MINIMUM WAGE

 

INCREASES

 

TO $13.85 JUNE 1

 

Martin asks why liquor servers fall under minimum wage guidelines when they get tips

Chilliwack MLA John Martin.

 

STAFF—VOICE FILE PHOTO

PUBLISHED WEDNESDAY—MAY—19

 

 

ast week during committee question period Liberal Labour Critic Chilliwack MLA John Martin duked it out with Labour Minister MLA Harry Bains over ministry operating estimates including general operations budget for WorkSafeBC which amounts to almost $16.5 million.

Last year, Worksafe BC was revitalized and was successful in meeting the needs of about 90 per cent of claimants. The other 10 per cent Bains said were more difficult to deal with.

 

The Ministry of Labour was granted an operational budget of almost $16.5 million for 2019-2020. The 2019 budget includes an increase of $14 million over three years to modernize the employment standards branch.

Martin, asked about Worksafe BC surplus cash and if any effort was made to return that to employers.

On the question of fair wages, Bains said that "$500,000 was the budget that was given to me to pay for the Fair Wages Commission."

 

Part of the funding was to look at the discrepancy between the minimum wage and the living wage.

Bains said establishing a living wage is more than working out a minimum wage because of the geographical constrictions.

"The living wage, as you know, is different in Courtenay than in downtown Vancouver," he told the members.

A commission has been formed to travel to eight locations throughout the province in an effort to determine the differences between minimum wages and living wages. That report will likely be out later in the summer after it's been analyzed.

Martin quizzed Bains about a minimum wage of $15.20, or possibly $15.40, by June 1, 2021 and what would happen if the economy took dive if there was some "flexibility" on the timelines.

Bains was adamant in saying that his ministry has the full intention of following through with the proposed minimum wage increase to $15.20 June 1, 2021. According to Bains, BC's job and GDP growth is the fastest in Canada. So there's nothing to hold back a minimum wage increase.

Martin concentrated on the impact that minimum wage increases will have on businesses, but rather than fold altogether, it would be fair to say that the wage increases for jobs like farm workers and liquor servers that the companies will pass on the increase to the consumer.

There is a plan to get farm workers and live-in caregivers up to $15.20 before June 1, 2021.

Martin asked Bains if farm workers and live-in care providers could they handle the current minimum wage until June 21, 2021. Bains said that the temporary foreign worker registry will be in place this year where the expectation is that between 500 and 1,000 recruiters would be licensed. The number could be in fact 10,000 employees.

Bains said he wasn't sure about how many caregivers there are in BC so the Fair Wage report couldn't take them into consideration so the plan is to just give them the upgraded wage planned for June 21, 2021 earlier than expected. But so far he says that decision hasn't been carved in stone.

Regarding liquor servers, 82 per cent are females, and there would be gender-based discrimination and pay them the same as any other worker.

Bains said he wants to toss discriminatory wage rates established in 2019 and that all workers should be treated equally from farm labourers to liquor servers.

Martin said major part of what liquor servers earn is through tips and asked how he came up with a minimum wage formula them.

Bains stuck to his Fair Wage Commission formula saying all workers, including liquor servers, should be paid at least $15.20 by June 1, 2021.

June 1, 2019 the minimum wage goes up to $13.85 an hour.

In the long run, the plan is to tie minimum wage increases to inflation.

Martin quizzed Bains on the Employer Health Tax about the impact it has on business saying it may be cause business to lay off people.

Bains thinks the economy is booming and responded by saying that BC has had lowest unemployment rate in the country for the last 18 months adding that new residential construction rates are dropping slightly due to the federal "stress test".

 

 

 

 

 

 


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