The B.C. Federation of Labour (BCFED) is working to have general minimum wage in the province raised to $15 an hour. On Thursday, the group took to the streets to hand out informational pamphlets and get people to sign its “Fight for 15” petition with the goal of raising B.C.’s minimum wage by almost 50 per cent.
President of BCFED, Irene Lanzinger stated the importance of the increase in pay for B.C.’s citizens. “It takes between $13 and $14 to live at the poverty line in British Columbia. And so we say working full time and living in poverty is not fair” she told CTV News. Lanzinger added that the majority of minimum wage workers in B.C. (63 per cent) are women. In its long-term campaign, BCFED is focusing on the implications of the current wage on groups that are most affected by the status quo. Currently, the spotlight is on post-secondary students who, despite working (often full-time) minimum wage jobs, are unable to pay for their education and consequently enter the workforce with overwhelming debt.
BCFED’s efforts at raising the wages of British Columbians are not a new project for the group. In March of last year, BCFED lobbied to have the minimum wage raised to $13 –representing the poverty line. Premier Christy Clark reacted with concern to the 2014 efforts, cautioning that raising the figure to $13 an hour could hurt job creation. The current “Fight for 15” campaign has been under way since November 2014. BCFED hopes that by educating people and addressing income inequality in the province, B.C. will soon welcome its first minimum wage increase in almost three years. At $10.25 an hour, over 120,000 British Columbians live on one of the lowest wages in Canada, in a city where the cost of living continues to rise.
Support for raising the minimum wage is shared by many community and labour groups in the province, concerned with the mounting challenges of living in the city and lifting workers out of poverty. Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson has also encouraged the provincial government to take a more comprehensive look at the issue, given its importance in addressing poverty in Vancouver.
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To learn more and access the “Fight for 15” petition, click here.