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B.C. expects minimum wage hike will now be ahead of inflation rate

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Just one year after promising to annually increase the minimum wage by the rate of inflation, the B.C. government now says the hike could be accelerated to reflect the province's economic growth.

Jobs Minister Shirley Bond is set to announce a review on Friday that is expected to lead to a boost to the minimum wage in September that will be greater than the rate of inflation.

"Given our stronger economic growth, we feel there should be room for a modest incremental adjustment … so that all workers can benefit from our success," Ms. Bond said in a statement.

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Inflation in British Columbia is expected to increase 1.5 per cent this year, but forecasters predict the province's economic growth will exceed 3 per cent.

If the wage hikes are set at a rate higher than the rate of inflation, B.C. will be edging out Ontario on the pace of increases – but not the wage itself.

Ontario's minimum wage will rise from $11.25 an hour to $11.40 on Oct. 1, based on legislation in 2014 to tie annual increases in the minimum wage to the province's rate of inflation.

B.C. followed suit in 2015, ending a three-year freeze when it announced the minimum wage will be tied to the rate of inflation to provide regular annual increases. The first increase, which took effect last September, boosted it to $10.45 an hour from $10.25 – a 2-per-cent hike.

The B.C. Federation of Labour, which has been campaigning for a $15 hourly wage, described the last increase as "pathetic."

The number of British Columbians who earn the minimum wage has been steadily declining since 2012; here are an estimated 93,700 workers – more than half of them students – who earn that rate. However, 7,400 of those wage earners are the head of a family.

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About the Author
B.C. politics reporter

Based in the press gallery of the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, Justine has followed the ups and downs of B.C. premiers since 1988. She has also worked as a business reporter and on Parliament Hill covering national politics. More

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