Irene Lanzinger

Irene Lanzinger

Labour calls 20-cent raise ‘pathetic’

A 20-cents-per-hour raise in minimum wage won’t lift B.C.’s poorest workers out of poverty, says the B.C. Federation of Labour.

A 20-cents-per-hour raise in minimum wage won’t lift B.C.’s poorest workers out of poverty, says the B.C. Federation of Labour.

The organization’s president Irene Lanzinger was in Nanaimo on Sunday for a Fight for $15 rally organized by the Nanaimo, Duncan and District Labour Council.

The gathering at Maffeo Sutton Park came three days after the provincial government announced that B.C.’s minimum wage is going up by 20 cents in September, and will see annual increases to match the B.C. consumer price index each September after that.

It’s the first increase since 2012, when the current wage of $10.25 was set.

Lanzinger said labour is “very disappointed” by the the minimum wage announcement.

“It was a pathetic response to hundreds of thousands of people who work full-time and live in poverty,” she said.

She said an increase to minimum wage would have a positive effect on B.C.’s economy.

“They actually spend all of that money into the economy, because they’re not opening a Swiss bank account, they’re not going on a European vacation,” she said.

Labour will continue to petition the B.C. government, Lanzinger said.

“Because we hope to put enough pressure on the government to change their mind [and] it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “It’s the right thing to look after the most vulnerable citizens in our society and the working poor are among the most vulnerable.”

Kim Smythe, chief executive officer of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, said in a press release that the chamber supports the provincial government’s minimum wage strategy. He said incremental minimum wage increases give businesses time to plan and prepare.

“This increase keeps B.C. competitive and aligns us with the minimum wages seen in other provinces and positions us in the middle of the pack,” Smythe said.

– with files from Tom Fletcher