BC Fed Preaches Benefits of $15 Minimum Wage at Labour Celebration
Prince George, B.C. – Rain hasn’t deterred hundreds of people from participating in today’s Labour Day celebration at the foot of City Hall.
Organized by the Labour Day Organizing Committee and the North Central Labour Council – the festivities kicked off with a march through downtown and will continue all day with free food, music, kids’ activities and display booths.
At noon it featured a speech by Aaron Ekman, secretary-treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour, pushing the provincial government to raise B.C.’s minimum wage to $15 an hour to help “bring working folks out of poverty.”
“There are currently half a million workers in B.C. making under $15 an hour which from my perspective is a poverty wage,” he said. “So we’ve been urging the provincial government since 2014 when we launched this campaign to do the right thing and they haven’t quite got there.”
Currently B.C.’s minimum wage is $10.45 an hour and will increase by 40 cents to $10.85 on September 15 yet Ekman said that’s not enough to keep up with the cost of living.
“It’s ridiculous in the Lower Mainland in terms of what people have to pay for housing but it’s not just in the Lower Mainland where it’s a problem. The further north you go the more transport costs increase,” he said.
“So food is expensive. I mean we hear reports of the really northern areas of cartons of milk going for $15 or eggs for $12 a carton.”
And Ekman doesn’t buy the argument from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) that raising the minimum wage kills jobs.
“They’ve said that every single time we’ve had a minimum wage campaign. They said it when we wanted the minimum wage to go up to $6 dollars an hour, when we wanted it to go up to $8 an hour,” he said.
“They said it when we called for a $10 minimum wage and predictably they’re saying it again now. And every single time their prediction that the sky was going to fall just haven’t come to pass. In fact, the economy does better in B.C. when working people make more money because they stay at their jobs longer, they become better at their jobs and they care about the work they do.”