Chamber concerned over minimum wage increase

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is concerned over the provincial government’s intention to increase the minimum wage in the coming years.

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce, along with the BC Chamber of Commerce, is concerned over the provincial government’s intention to increase the minimum wage in the coming years.

Currently, B.C.’s minimum wage is $10.45 per hour, and is the lowest in Canada. Christy Clark’s Liberal government announced on May 3 its intention to increase the minimum wage twice in the next year and a half. The first increase is set for Sept. 16 of this year, when the minimum wage will increase by 40 cents to $10.85. Clark’s next increase will be in September 2017, by 40 cents to bring it to $11.25.  Compared to other provinces and territories, the increase will make B.C.’s minimum wage middle of the road in Canada. The highest minimum wage is $13 in Nunavut.

Patty Vadnais, executive director at the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, wants the government to provide more consistency and predictability in minimum wage increases, allowing businesses to effectively plan.

“The minimum wage could jump to $11.25 so that added expense, if you’re not able to plan for it, can really affect the bottom line,” she said.

According to Vadnais, there are 94,000 people province-wide earning minimum wage, and 93 per cent of those jobs are in the service sector – hotels, retail stores and the food service industry. Vadnais pointed to Fernie’s service sector as being most heavily impacted by the proposed increases.

“In Fernie, there are roughly 20 businesses that are in the service sector so they are going to be impacted by this,” she said. “Owners are going to have to make decisions like do they cut back the hours for their employees to compensate for that extra expense? Do owners now have to work more shifts because they have to cover those expenses?”

Vadnais does not believe that an increased minimum wage will help businesses, even if, theoretically, people were to have more disposable income to spend on goods and services.

“I don’t think that will be the effect for us because most of our businesses are already paying above minimum wage so they are trying to pay that living wage for people. Our labour market has already demanded that we pay more than the minimum wage,” she said.

Vadnais would like to see more predictability in minimum wage increases and for it to increase according to the consumer price index (CPI) to account for inflation.


Just Posted

Fires highlight need for more volunteers

Short-staffed volunteer fire departments in Elk Valley, South Country rely on mutual aid

Motorcyclist grateful to be alive, thanks fellow drivers

Over a dozen people stopped to assist Lori Hann after she tumbled off her bike on Hwy 3, Saturday

Local athletes ready for BC Summer Games

Twenty-four athletes from the Elk Valley and South Country will compete at the 2018 BC Summer Games.

GearHub staff staying positive after fire

Sporting goods store to fully reopen by end of July

UPDATE: New lead narrows the search for Serval cat

UPDATE, July 17: A new lead has narrowed the search for Aquila… Continue reading

BC Games: Day 1 comes to an end

Medals have already been handed out following one day of competition in the 2018 BC Summer Games

The Free Press editor wins awards

Editor Phil McLachlan has been recognized at the 2018 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards.

BC Wildfire update on Okanagan blazes

Watch the media briefing on the current fire situation in the Okanagan.

RCMP help to save goats from wildfire

The fast-approaching wildfire, sparked Thursday, forced the evacuation of five homes

VIDEO: Near drowning captured on popular B.C. river

Search and Rescue manager says the popular pastime of floating in the summer is inherently dangerous

Crosswalk vandalism leaves black mark for Cowichan as B.C. Games begin

Rainbow crosswalk defaced just days after being painted

Photo gallery: BC Games Day 1

A brief look at action from the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

UPDATED: Anti-pipeline campers digging in as eviction deadline expires

The City of Burnaby had ordered the Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters out for violating bylaws

Trump was taped talking of paying Playboy model: AP source

Source says former personal lawyer Michael Cohen secretly recorded discussion prior to 2016 election

Most Read