Minimum wage increases coupled with new training supports

 

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The British Columbia government is increasing the minimum wage in two stages to better reflect the province’s overall economic growth and ensure all workers benefit from B.C.’s success.

Last year, government announced a policy to index the minimum wage to British Columbia’s Consumer Price Index (CPI). Based on British Columbia’s 2015 CPI, the minimum wage this year would increase by 10 cents per hour. With British Columbia expected to lead the country in economic growth this year and next, the government has decided there is room for an adjustment to the minimum wage rate beyond B.C.’s CPI.

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The first increase will be 40 cents and bring the minimum wage rate to $10.85 per hour, effective Sept. 15, 2016. This new rate includes the 10 cents scheduled for the 2015 CPI, plus an additional 30 cents.

“One of the first actions I took when I became Premier was to raise the minimum wage,” said Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia. “Raising the minimum wage twice over the next two years, coupled with some targeted supports for young people and businesses, will help everyone share in the benefits of our growing economy.”

A second increase of 30 cents plus an amount based on the 2016 CPI (estimated to be 10 cents) will bring the minimum wage rate to $11.25, effective Sept. 15, 2017. The 2016 CPI will be available from Statistics Canada by March 2017.

The B.C. government also is reaffirming its commitment to reducing the small business tax rate by 40% by 2017-18. This would mean a small business that is incorporated with $100,000 in active business income would have its taxes go from $2,500 to $1,500, savings of $1,000 annually.

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In addition, the Province is investing $2.88 million in new training programs to help with labour shortages in the province. The programs will be help young people, small businesses and employers in the retail, hospitality, agriculture and aquaculture sectors.

“We know that small businesses are the backbone of our regional economies,” said Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business, Red Tape Reduction and Minister Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch. “The new Canada-BC Job Grant will cover all the training costs for small businesses that hire and train an unemployed person. This is a win-win situation that helps both small businesses, our tight labour market and these British Columbians.”

The first program is a $2.38-million investment through the Canada-BC Job Grant. This new Job Grant stream will help businesses invest in training by covering the cost of training a newly hired employee who was unemployed prior to training. The program will include:

  • A new $2-million unemployed stream to the Canada Job Grant that will cover 100% of training costs up to $15,000 per person for an employer who hires an unemployed individual;
  • $300,000 will be targeted to youth under the existing $1-million Underrepresented Groups stream of the Canada Job Grant to support employers training and hiring youth;
  • A $80,000 partnership with Small Business BC as the delivery partner to help small businesses assess their training needs, identify training options and apply for the grant; and
  • Travel costs of participants or trainers as eligible expenses to increase access for businesses in small and remote communities.

The second program is an investment of $500,000 to expand the existing Get Youth Working program. This program currently provides work placement, on-the-job skills training, including short-term certificate training as required, and a wage subsidy. These programs are currently offered throughout B.C. to youth aged 15 to 29 years. These new funds will be earmarked for youth being trained and hired employees in the retail, hospitality, agriculture and aquaculture sectors.

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“BC’s economy is expected to lead the country in economic growth this year and next. We want to strike a balance where we bring the minimum wage into line with our strong economy,” said Shirley Bond, Minister for Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour. “That is why these two increases to the minimum wage will help those earning minimum wage while not impeding businesses’ ability to grow, innovate and hire British Columbians.”

The minimum wage rate for liquor servers also will increase by the same amounts and on the same dates as the general minimum wage. The differential of $1.25 between the general minimum wage and liquor server rate will be maintained.

As well, the daily rate for live-in home-support workers and live-in camp leaders, as well as the monthly rates for resident caretakers and the farm-worker piece rates (for harvesters of certain fruits and vegetables) will increase proportionate to the general minimum hourly wage increases on Sept. 15 in 2016 and 2017.

 

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