Minimum wage hike applauded

Even though his business will be impacted by the cost of a rising minimum wage, Ryan Abougoush says the provincial mandate is a move in the right direction.

Even though his business will be impacted by the cost of a rising minimum wage, Ryan Abougoush says the provincial mandate is a move in the right direction.

“It will have to be absorbed, which means it will reflect in the prices businesses charge,” said Abougoush, one of the co-owners of Bernard Avenue’s Grateful Fed.

“But it’s alright, we have to join the rest of the provinces and have a decent minimum wage.”

The general hourly minimum wage rate rises to $8.75 on May 1, to $9.50 on Nov. 1 and to $10.25 on May 1, 2012.

The $6 an hour training wage is also being eliminated this May 1.

A lower minimum will be set for restaurant and bar employees, like Abougoush’s, who serve alcohol. That will be $8.50 an hour on May 1, $8.75 on Nov. 1 and $9 on May 1, 2012. Clark said that measure is similar to the minimum wage system in Ontario, and it reflects the tips earned by alcohol servers.

It’s a change in tack that the provincial government had been criticized in the past for not taking fast enough.

Following in that vein, Jim Sinclair, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, reiterated his displeasure for the lack of responsiveness. “A minimum wage increase is long overdue, and it’s unfortunate B.C.’s lowest paid workers had to wait 10 years for any increase,” Sinclair said.

“$8.75 is a poor start. B.C. will still have the lowest minimum wage in Canada, but we’re hopeful that the premier will keep her promises to reach $10.25 by next May.”

By the estimates of Kelowna Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, the graduated implementation of $10.25 should please business owners.

“As a business man, I know for myself that it’s important to have time to adjust,” he said. “The fact that it’s happening over the next 18 months, and not immediately, is important.”

Letnick continued to say that only 2.3 per cent of British Columbians bring home an $8 hour or less wage, and in 2009 that amounted to 41,0000 workers. His figures indicate that the average youth wage in B.C. is $13.86, while the average adult makes $23 an hour.

“Some people will feel the impact more than others,” he said, but added that most people will spend their money in the local economy.