money billsThe minimum wage in this province is about to go up; the government is increasing it by 20 cents.

This will come into effect on September 15th, when minimum wage workers will begin earning $10.45 an hour. A wage increase will take place every September, but by how much will be based on the cost of living.

Anyone who serves liquor and makes the current minimum wage of $9 an hour will also see an increase of 20 cents.

Jobs Minister Shirley Bond says if the Consumer Prince Index (CPI) goes down, minimum wage will stay the same.

“We have, currently, about 110,000 people in the province that earn the minimum wage. About 50 per cent of those individuals live at home with their parents. And of those, another 50 per cent are actually attending school,” says Bond.

“Today in British Columbia, our average hourly wage for adults is fourth-highest in the country. It’s actually just below $25 an hour. And our average hourly youth rate is just below $15 an hour,” she adds.

Vibrant Abbotsford, the anti-poverty organization who calculate the living wage every year, say the province’s announcement of the 20 cent hike to the minimum wage is a step in the right direction.

Coordinator Allison Homer says the fact that future increases will be tied to the consumer price index is very important.

“It addresses the fact that cost of living is rising faster than inflation. Wages are not following suit, so people are continually taking pay cuts. So indexing the wage inflation definitely counters some of the negative impacts of those rising costs.”

However Homer says the twenty cent hike isn’t enough.

“The wage increase is relatively small, and it doesn’t address the key issue that people who work full time for minimum wage are still living in poverty. So the new minimum wage will still keep full time working people below the poverty line, and that’s difficult for minimum wage earning families. It makes it hard for them to afford to make their ends meet.”

Vibrant Abbotsford calculates a living wage every year, the minimum needed to pay for rent food and expenses, which in the Fraser Valley last year worked out to just over $17 per hour.