$10 minimum wage critical as BCs economic boom bypasses provinces working families and key regions

BC's current economic boom is bypassing working families, according to a Labour Day analysis prepared by the B.C. Federation of Labour, forcing them to work longer hours just to stand still while corporate profits rise and CEOs take home massive pay increases.

"A $10 minimum wage would help nearly 250,000 working people who are at or below the poverty line," says B.C. Federation of Labour President, Jim Sinclair. "Despite positive economic news, most British Columbians are not seeing their incomes improve and some regions are actually experiencing declining employment. BC has a very high level of people living in poverty. To them, this is not the ‘best place on earth' as provincial propaganda suggests."

The Federation issued a review of the provincial economy to support its call for a $10 minimum wage - which has been frozen by the Campbell Liberals at $8 per hour since 2001. The increase would bring 246,000 British Columbians up to the poverty line with particular benefits for women and younger workers, who make up a large share of BC's low-paid workforce.

The Federation's review also found that:

• Corporate profits are taking a larger and larger share of the gross provincial product while the labour share declines;

• Middle and low-income workers are working longer and longer hours just to maintain their current income levels;

• Some regions of the province, particularly the northwest and the Kootenays, have actually seen total employment decline, despite the current economic prosperity; and

• Union membership remains a critical strategy to remain out of poverty, with the average unionized worker earning $5.12 an hour more than the average non-union worker.

"A minimum wage is an important starting point," Sinclair said, "but working families need action on five fronts: quality childcare for their kids, good employment standards, safe workplaces, decent pensions and balanced labour laws. If we had action on those priorities, the benefits of economic growth would be fairly shared."

Download a copy of the report here