VANCOUVER — The “Fight For 15 Campaign” to increase minimum wage is hoping to pick up speed across the country today.
Today is the National Day of Action, with rallies planned from Vancouver to Moncton.
Organizers are calling for the minimum wage to be raised to $15 an hour.
Since April 1, B.C. has had the lowest minimum wage in the country, at $10.45/hour, despite the cost of living going up. It went up from $10.25 in September.
The BC Federation of Labour, that’s behind the campaign, say the province’s minimum wage leaves full-time workers living thousands of dollars below the poverty line. They say the minimum wage of $15/ hour would ensure that does not happen.
The federation’s president Irene Lanzinger says their campaign in B.C. has been going on for about 1.5 years now, but it’s the first time there has been a national day of action.
Locally, rallies are also expected to be held in Kamloops and Surrey.
According to a 2014 Labour Force Survey by Stats Canada, there are 509,400 working people in B.C. earning less than $15 per hour.
A poll conducted by Insights West reveals 83 per cent of British Columbians think it is necessary to ensure a person earning the minimum wage lives above the poverty line.
In addition, 76 per cent of those polled support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
In March, the provincial government said it was reviewing the minimum wage increase and expects to announce the increase this spring, with the new rate coming into effect on Sept. 15.
The exact size of the minimum wage increase was not announced, but is expected to be in the range of 30 cents. That would put British Columbia’s minimum wage at $10.75/hour.
The government says it’s trying to strike a delicate balance between making sure all British Columbians can share in the province’s economic growth while not impeding businesses’ ability to grow.
Lanzinger says she has little confidence the government will make a significant wage increase in September.
“I will only be happy with a plan for $15,” says Lanzinger. “Frankly, anything less is saying that workers will live in poverty even if they work full-time and that’s not fair.”
Minimum wage rates across Canada:
Northwest Territories: $12.50
Ontario: $11.25; $11.40 as of October, 2016
New Brunswick: $10.65 as of April 1, 2016; will move to $11 TBD 2017
Nova Scotia: $10.60
Quebec: $10.55; $10.75 as of May 1, 2016
Prince Edward Island: $10.50; $11.00 as of October 1, 2016
-With files from Justin McElroy and Amy Judd
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