VICTORIA — British Columbia’s labour minister has appointed an economist to lead a commission to advise the government on boosting the province’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Prof. Marjorie Griffin Cohen of Simon Fraser University will chair the Fair Wages Commission, which also includes Ken Peacock, vice-president at the Business Council of British Columbia, and Ivan Limpright, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
The commission is expected to deliver a report with a timeline to raise the minimum wage within 90 days of its first meeting.
The New Democrats had previously set a deadline of 2021 to raise the minimum wage but Labour Minister Harry Bains said that will now be up to the commission to determine.
“We want to de-politicize this whole process so that they consult with small businesses, consult with workers, consult with the community leaders to make sure that they come back with the recommendations that will give small businesses at least a gradual, predictable, and common sense increases so they have certainty to adjust their cost of labour over a period of time,” he said.
The NDP had promised to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour but after forming a government it agreed with the Green party to set up a commission that would oversee regular rate reviews.
The commission will also review wages of liquor servers and agricultural workers that are tied to separate rates.
Bains said the commission has also been asked to report on closing the gap between the minimum and living wage, which varies between communities.
Cohen said average hourly wages in B.C. are lower than the national average.
“These low wages have contributed to growing inequality and poverty for many working people and their families,” she said.
The commission has a budget of $490,000 over two years, which will largely fund travel and consultations.
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