Mar 15, 2009

BC’s minimum wage soon tied for Canada’s lowest


On April 15th British Columbia officially wins the race to the bottom.

That is the day New Brunswick raises its minimum wage to $8.00 an hour. When that happens New Brunswick, PEI and British Columbia will be tied with the lowest minimum wage in Canada.

This three-way tie won’t last for long though. On September 1st NB’s minimum wage goes up to $8.25.

It’s a lot cheaper to live in New Brunswick and PEI than in BC. Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) publishes a national rental market report. Its most recent publication found renting a two-bedroom apartment in Moncton NB cost $656. In Charlottetown PEI it cost $660. Here in Vancouver the cost was over $1,100 – almost twice as much.

There aren’t many places in Canada where it costs as much to live as Vancouver. In Toronto, CMHC reports it costs $1,095 to rent a two-bedroom apartment. On March 31st Ontario is raising its minimum wage to $9.50. In Calgary it also costs more than $1,100 to rent the two-bedroom apartment. Alberta is raising its minimum wage to $8.80 on April 1st.

In Vancouver a minimum wage earner working full time would have about $240 left in their pocket after paying the rent.

New Brunswick is actually embarrassed about coming late to minimum wage increases. NB Labour Minister Donald Arseneault told the CBC, “It’s embarrassing. We’re last in Canada,” and “We have a lot to do. Businesses also have to look in the mirror.”

Incidentally, on May 1st Saskatchewan’s minimum wage goes up to $9.25. Manitoba’s minimum goes up to $8.75 the same day. Newfoundland’s goes up to $9.00 on July 1st.

It’s time for British Columbia’s government to look in the mirror as well.

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