On March 16, 2011, Premier Christy Clark and (now former) Minister of Labour Stephanie Cadieux announced the first increase to BCs minimum wage in ten years. A series of small, incremental increases were scheduled to bring the minimum hourly wage that a worker could be paid from $8 an hour up to $10.25.
It was a move that was made with an air of desperation by a government that was struggling to distance itself from its disgraced former leader and his widely hated policies. While the minimum was still leaves its earners well below the low income cut off, the increase, along with the elimination of the $6 “Training Wage”, was a partial victory for all those who fought long and hard to break the Liberal wage freeze.
Nobody should have been fooled into believing the Liberals had changed their ways. They have a fundamental tie to the interest of big business and the elite which is un-severable. A small increase certainly did not transform them into a party of the 99%.
In order to demonstrate the fact clearly and immediately Christy and the Liberals threw the restaurant and hospitality industry a bone; workers who serve alcohol would see their wages rise only to $9 per hour by the end of the increases.
It should have been clear to anyone interested in the issue of minimum wage that further increases would require further campaigning and that with our present government it would be an uphill battle.
But there was a small glimmer of hope that an opportunity for further increases was on the not too distant horizon. Minister Cadieux mentioned in her announcement that the government carried out consultation with business and labour organizations prior to making its decision.
The position of labour could not have been mistaken given the countless statements, letters, demonstrations, press conferences, and rallies produced by the BC FED, not to mention tens of thousands of petition signatures collected.
But she went one step further and announced that a review including such consultation would take place every two years henceforth starting in summer of 2012.
A review is needed. The minimum wage is far too low to provide the standard of living that those who work hard to earn it deserve. Given that the low income cut off is over $12 per hour and a living wage would be over $19, one has to wonder just how serious Christy and her Liberals are about their “Families First” agenda or, perhaps, just which families she is referring to. It does not appear that the families she has in mind are those of low wage earners.
In any case, so far it’s July and time is running out. Time for minimum wage earners, the labour movement, anti-poverty activists, and other concerned citizens to start asking; “Where’s the review, Christy?”